Fitness coach shares how to run your first ever 5km

Fitness coach shares how to run your first ever 5km

With running enjoying a resurgence as people have dug out their trainers during lockdown, we speak to running coach Brennan Townshend about how to prepare for your first ever 5km run. He shares his tips for avoiding injury and explains why using NuroKor bioelectrical therapy can be helpful.

Running has enjoyed a boom since the start of the pandemic with gyms closed and fitness classes cancelled. And that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With the days getting longer and the summer months soon to be upon us, more people than ever before are trying running for the first time, or putting their trainers on again after a long break. 

We speak to running coach and endurance athlete Brennan Townshend from High Peak Running about how to go from not running to completing your first 5km. 

What should be the first steps when you start running or haven’t run for a long time? 

When starting to run or get back into running after a long time off, the key is to take it slowly and ensure you have enough rest in between sessions to recover. Also start with a small distance, even if it's 1km or a mix of walking with timed sections of running. For example, a 5km walk which includes three sets of three minutes of running (3x3 minutes). 

There are lots of physiological adaptations that take place when you begin to increase your running volume or start from scratch. These adaptations need time to take place to ensure you can progress and build consistency in your training. Whilst running is the primary focus, there is also a lot of background work that needs to be done, from stretching to core and strength work and recovery methods such as bioelectrical therapy and massage.

What kind of training plan would you suggest for someone going from no running to trying to run a 5km? 

The key to success and long-term running progression is consistency. To be consistent the training plan must be achievable, set at the correct intensity, allow for rest and recovery and be progressive. 

In the first week of training, you may have 2-3 sessions of 5km walks including 3x3 minutes of running, a core session, a stretching session, some basic walking drills and one or two sessions of massage/self-massage or NuroKor sessions.

The training volume and frequency would then build from there, although you would also have some weeks where you do less training. For example, three weeks of building up your training, followed by one week of reduced volume/less training. 

How can you stay injury free when starting running? 

When starting or taking up running you need to work on other aspects to help prevent injuries. These areas would be strength, recovery, mobility and technique. 

Alongside your running you should include regular strength work, starting basic and working towards more running specific exercises. This could be done at home or in the gym. 

Recovery is very important in injury prevention and to allow the important fitness adaptations to take place. Recovery comes in a variety of forms from rest with your feet up, to more active activities such as walking, easy cycling and massage. You can also use NuroKor bioelectrical therapy to recover. I recommend the NuroKor’s recovery features for ease of use and specifically targeting areas that are painful or tight. 

Regular stretching around your training will help with mobility. Technique is also very important to ensure you are running with good form and starting out with correct postural and biomechanical running mechanics. A good place to start with technique is to include some walking or running drills on a few days each week.

Any advice on kit and footwear for someone taking up running. 

Having running shoes that fit well and are suitable for the running you will be doing is a must. I would advise seeing your local running shop to have your feet measured and to try on a variety of makes and models in store to find the shoes that work best for you. 

With clothing, make sure it’s comfortable, fits well and is suitable for the conditions you will be training in. A good waterproof is essential for the unpredictable UK conditions!

What would your nutritional advice be?  

Keep nutrition simple and aim to eat a healthy balanced diet. Before training, carbohydrates should be your focus, aim to finish eating your pre-run meal three hours before running or if it’s a smaller snack, one hour before.

How does someone new to running stay motivated? 

To stay motivated, make sure your plan is challenging, achievable and allows for rest. This will prevent overtraining and keep the progress going. 

Having an end goal or several goals through your running journey helps a lot too, whether this is a race in several months’ time, a quicker time on your training loop or generally being more healthy and active long term. 

Aim to keep your training varied and interesting, this could be from running in different locations, running with friends or family, or taking your training off-road.

Is 5km realistic for new runners? 

5km is realistic and achievable if you apply solid training principles to your running. Enjoy the process, make it fun and keep up with the background work around your run sessions.

Brennan Townshend is an elite runner and running coach at High Peak RunningYou can find out more about Brennan on his website or by following him on social media: