If you’ve avoided running in the past because it doesn’t seem enjoyable, signing up for a fun run might be just the inspiration you need to get off the couch. As the name implies, “fun runs” are as much about having a great time as they are about running.
Proceeds usually go to a local charity, making the events a good choice if you want to get a little exercise while supporting an important cause. In some of these friendly, noncompetitive races, participants navigate through obstacles or eat donuts. One popular version even ends with runners covered in brightly colored, washable paint.
Although the theme of these events is fun, you should still train for them, particularly if you haven’t run before or aren’t very active. Creating a fitness planning schedule for your fun run will help you finish strong and have fun doing it.
Fun Run or 5K: How Long is a 5K, Anyway?
Both fun runs and 5Ks are short races that appeal to both new and experienced runners. 5Ks are 3.1 miles long, while fun runs can be the same length or slightly shorter. At some events, you can opt to run in either the 5K or the fun run.
Find the Perfect Fun Run
Plenty of organizations in the Triangle area hold annual fun runs. Check out some of these possibilities:
(May 21, 2016 in Chapel Hill) Run, walk, skip or dance your way to the finish line while you move through a rainbow of fun. All ages, skills, sizes and shapes are welcome and having a blast is what it’s all about. Color the Hill 4k and Fun Run is the wackiest time you can have on a cross country course! Make sure you show up at the start line as a blank canvas – white attire is best. By the finish line, you’ll look like a Jackson Pollock painting!
(June 3, 2016, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary): You’ll be adorned with glowing accessories as you run through the course. Along the way, volunteers will toss glow-in-the-dark powder and water on you. The night ends with a dance party at the finish line.
(June 19, 2016 at the Streets of South Point, Durham): For the 4th year, Maggiano’s Little Italy will host the Father’s Day 5K at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham on Sunday, June 19th. Forget the neckties. Start a new tradition with your dad or hubby this year and invite the whole family to the Maggiano’s Father’s Day 5K at The Streets at Southpoint. The run benefits Make-A-Wish of Eastern North Carolina. The event includes something for everyone, beginning with a 1 mile FUN run at 8:00 am followed by the 5K run/walk at 8:30 am.
(August 27, 2016, at Triangle Town Center in Raleigh): This fun run is anything but bland. As you pass by several stations along the race course, you’ll be pelted with different colors of dry paint.
(held annually in February in Raleigh): At 5 miles, this fun run is a little longer than the others, but it’s a good choice if you want a greater challenge. You’ll start at the Memorial Belltower at North Carolina State University, run 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme in Raleigh, eat a dozen doughnuts (or skip that part) and run back to the Belltower.
Keep Your Feet Happy
Before you can start training for your fun run, you’ll need to buy a pair of running shoes. Running shoes are specially designed to be lightweight yet provide the support and shock absorption your feet need while you run. Although you might be tempted to wear shoes you already have and skip the trip to the shoe store, a pair of well-fitting running shoes will help you avoid training injuries.
Slow and Steady
Running, like any other sport, takes practice. Plan to train for eight weeks before you participate in your first run. A gradual approach to training is essential. When you train, you’ll alternate running short periods with walking to build your stamina and endurance. Try this sample schedule when you’re ready to start training:
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Run one minute, then walk for 90 seconds. Repeat eight times.
- Tuesday and Saturday: Work on strength-training exercises.
- Wednesday and Sunday:
Modify the schedule on your running days as follows for the remaining weeks:
- Second week: Run for two minutes, then walk for one minute. Repeat seven times.
- Third week: Run for four minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat six times.
- Fourth week: Run for six minutes and walk for two minutes. Repeat four times.
- Fifth week: Run for nine minutes and walk for two minutes. Repeat three times.
- Sixth week: Run for 12 minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat three times.
- Seventh week: Run for 15 minutes and walk for one minute. Repeat two times.
- Eighth week: Run for 30 minutes.
Strength Training Is Important
Strength training is an excellent addition to any fitness routine and is particularly important for runners. Building muscle and bone strength not only helps improve your endurance level and reduces your risk of developing osteoporosis, but also strengthens your leg muscles. When your legs are strong, it’s much easier to run longer distances.
Running Offers Lifelong Benefits
Running is a great way to stay healthy and live longer. The aerobic activity offers a variety of benefits, including:
Improved immune system function: When your immune system is strong, it’s easier to fight off colds and other viruses.
Lower risk of serious diseases: Regular aerobic exercise decreases your risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Better heart health: Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart, enabling it to work more efficiently.
Improved moods: Running can decrease anxiety, stress and depression.
Better health as you age: Researchers at Stanford University report that continuing to run as you grow older decreases the risk of early death and slows the effects of aging, allowing you to enjoy a more active life in your golden years.
Are you ready to get off the couch and start training for a fun run? If you’re unsure about how to start, the interdisciplinary team at LifeStyle Medical Centers will work with you to develop a comprehensive fitness and nutrition plan that will help you reach your goal. With the help of our fitness planning experts, you’ll be ready for your first fun run in no time.