I had a training plan in place -- and I encourage you to follow one, too -- but I had to stop running altogether two months before race day. Despite not running for almost two months, I decided to show up for this weekend's race anyhow and loved every minute of it. I didn't run the entire thing (I made my best effort to run most of it) and I found that what I enjoyed most wasn't racing, but the camaraderie of being out there with runners and walkers just getting outside and moving.
I'm not encouraging you to run your first race without any training, but I'm sharing my story to let you know that you don't have to be an experienced runner to participate in a 5K.
Here's why you should consider running a 5K with your baby, even if you've never run before. (If you decide to sign up for a 5K race, make sure to check the race regulations to see if strollers are allowed.)
1. 5K races attract both walkers and serious runners. Every race will have some speedy runners, but the 5K distance is great for new runners and people interested in walking, so if you're feeling nervous about not keeping up, don't worry! The 5K I ran this past weekend had four waves (term for how they group the race entrants so that the fastest people start at the front of the pack and the walkers get placed at the back) for runners, runners with dogs, and a family/walker wave:
2. Signing up for a 5K will provide motivation to exercise. Knowing that you have a race coming up will encourage you to get out with baby and the jogger stroller! If you can, enlist another mama friend with a jogger stroller and do your walks/runs together.
3. If your training goes awry, you can still walk a 5K. Like the race I ran this past weekend, there will be plenty of walkers. If you decide to walk, just park yourself at the back of the pack at the race start. Not only is it good race etiquette, you won't feel pressured to run if you're only prepared to walk the entire race.
4. 5K is a distance you can finish in an hour or less. If you decide to walk an entire 5K, you should be able to walk the whole race (briskly) in about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. As a walker, you'll be in good company in a 5K distance.
5. It will be an event that you'll remember. There's baby's first time sitting up, baby's first time standing, and baby's first words! How many kids can say that they ran their first race with mom when they were a baby?
Have you ever run a 5K? Did you train or not?
If you're a seasoned runner, what's your favorite race distance? Why?