How to Transform from Couch Potato to 5K Runner

If you’re new to running, training alone can be challenging, but a local program will help get you started, whether you want to do some laps around a track, a 5K or something more ambitious.

The No Boundaries program at Fleet Feet West Hartford is a 10-week course that takes new runners from “couch to 5K” in a motivational group setting, which helps hold runners accountable to their own goals.

“It’s a lot easier to talk yourself out of things by yourself than it is if you’re doing it in a group environment,” Rich Dillon, head coach of No Boundaries, said.

Michelle Kurnik, the training director, said the program starts with the basics, including proper warming up and cooling down. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t hold static stretches before running. Instead, pre-run preps should be dynamic, like jumping jacks.

“If you think about what happens if you put taffy in the refrigerator, then you take it out and try to stretch it, what does it do? It snaps,” Kurnik said. “Same thing with your muscles. So you want to make sure they're warmed up and pliable before you do those static stretches. Those are good for after your run.”

Other tips:

  • Start with interval training, which combines running and walking. Increase your weekly mileage gradually to avoid injury. Kurnik recommends no more than a quarter mile weekly increase.
  • Know the rules of the road. Run against traffic, use sidewalks whenever possible, and avoid using earphones when running outside because music can drown out the sound of approaching vehicles.
  • If running at night, “see and be seen.” Wear reflective gear so drivers can see you, and consider purchasing an illuminating headlamp to light your path.
  • Don’t do all your training on a treadmill. When you’re running outside, you have to propel your own body weight forward, which changes your stride, according to Kurnik. Get used to running outside, since that’s where your 5K will most likely take place!
  • Lastly, realize that putting one foot in front of the other… starts in your head.

“The hardest part of training is believing that you can,” Kurnik said. “And that's one of the most exciting things to see in our runners, is realizing that, I really can do this.”

Lace up and join Heidi Voight and Bob Maxon on Sunday April 26 at the March of Dimes Run for Babies 5K at Rentschler Field. Click here to register and join the NBC Connecticut team!

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