From Couch to 5km. How to Prepare for your First Fun Run

So, you’ve decided to take on the challenge of participating in a fun run, and let me tell you, it’s going to be great! The energy of the crowd at these events is electric, and with music and fun activities to keep you entertained along the way, what’s not to love?

However, aside from all the entertainment, it’s also important to have a plan in place to help you perform at your best. Even if you’re just participating for the fun of it with your friends or family, it would be a missed opportunity not to take advantage of having something to train for. After all, having a goal and a deadline to work towards is a fantastic way to establish healthy habits that will benefit you in the long run.

With that in mind, here are my top tips to help you prepare for your first fun run.

Set a realistic goal

Setting a goal is a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated and on track, but if your goal is unrealistic, you may end up resenting the challenge and losing the fun.

If you’re new to running, your goal could be as simple as just finishing the event. If you already love running, you may want to set a specific time goal. And if you’re running with your kids, perhaps your goal will be focused on consistency in training as a family, rather than setting any records. It’s important to choose a goal that works for you and to write it down.

Sign up to an event.

As you set your goal, sign up for an event to give yourself something to train for. One of the best events, regardless of whether you’re a beginner running with your family, or a seasoned runner aiming for a new personal best is the Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k and 5k.This course is flat and fast, with beautiful views of the harbour and fantastic entertainment to keep you motivated   This course is flat and fast, with beautiful views of the harbour and great entertainment.

Additionally, for the second year in a row, the Australian Cancer Research Foundation will be the official charity partner, creating a platform for runners to raise vital money for cancer research. Every step you take is helping give the people you love Australia’s best cancer research. Show your support and make your run or walk a lifesaving one by signing up and raising funds.

Another bonus about this fun run, is that it is one of Sydney’s few winter running events. If you enjoy yourself, why not try the Sydney Marathon in September? There is a 3.5km event which is perfect for families, a 10k, half marathon and marathon.  

Failure to plan, in planning to fail 

Having a plan to follow is a great way to not only build a healthy habit, but to help you achieve your goal. I would include the following training days into your week.  

Long run day: On your long run days, you don’t need to run the full distance of the event, especially if you are new to running. In fact, it is better to build up your kms gradually over time.

If you are new to running, start with a 1-2km long run day. Feel free to break up that distance by walking, jogging, and/ or running. Once you are comfortable with that distance, add another km when you are ready.

Sprint training day: It is good to practise sprint training before a fun run, as realistically you will be sprinting to pass people, and you will also be sprinting to the finish line. Mark out approximately 100 metres, sprint it, the walk back to recover 10 times.

Speed play day: Speed play is when you alternate between running at a slightly paster face (as if you are overtaking someone) and slowing back to your normal running pace. It is designed to help you build muscles and cardiovascular system to be able to change speeds without needing to stop for a break. Choose around a 1-2 km distance and play with your speeds. For example, you may choose alternate between running fast for 100 metres and then running at a normal pace for 300 metres.  

Strength training 1-2 days per week: It’s a good idea to strengthen the specific muscles that your body needs to take you the distance for a fun run. For example, when you run, you are on one leg at a time, so doing work that isolates each leg, such as a one leg glute bridges and lunges is key. You also want to work on your posture and your core, as poor posture will lead to aches and pains by the end of the course. 

Try to get into a gym to use their equipment, but if you prefer to work out when you have free time at home, Flow Athletic TV have some great workout programs online, and Medifit offer a range of active bands to help you add resistance to your exercises if you want to do that. They also have foam rollers to help you recover and roll out post workout. 

Eat well and rest up 

Your diet is essential to not only helping your body recover post workout, but also for your energy levels and gut health. Therefore, eating well is always a good idea. Aim for a diet that is rich in whole foods, lean protein, fruit, and vegetable. As a rule of thumb, the more colours on your plate, the more nutrients you will be ingesting. 

In the week leading into the event, don’t change your diet up from what you normally eat. The last thing you want is an upset stomach on the morning of the fun run. If you want to change anything up when it comes to your diet before the event, start introducing it into your diet earlier. 

Additionally, rest is always important, but it is especially important if you are upping the ante on your training. Make sure you are aiming for 8 hours a night to give your body and mind a chance to rest and recover.

About Ben Lucas

Benjamin  Lucas is Owner and Director of Flow Athletic Paddington. 

Ben grew up in the southern Sydney suburb of Cronulla, where he excelled in athletics, basketball and rugby league during his formative years. Post schooling he went on with his rugby league to play professionally for the Cronulla Sharks, in Brisbane and in Auckland.

The Real Insurance Sydney Harbour 10k & 5k will take place on Sunday July 23, 2023. Registrations are open now

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only, and does not constitute health or medical advice. If you have any concerns regarding your physical or mental health, seek immediate medical attention.