How to Train for a 5K as a Family
If you want to train for a 5K, but aren't sure how to find the time because you have kids at home 24/7, it's time to train with your kids. If they aren't old enough to walk alongside you, invest in a good jogging stroller. Even if you start out walking, you'll eventually be able to jog and you'll save money by grabbing a jogging stroller from the get-go.
If your kids are in kindergarten, chances are they can train with you. The good news is, it'll be fun – at first. The bad news is, they might get bored – quickly. My tips for training for a 5K with kids are just that – mine. You might have different experiences, and surely there are others listed around the web. Feel free to take it or leave it, but keep in mind that it is possible to train for a 5K with kids. If you're using them as an excuse, now's the time to stop.
The most important part of starting to train for a 5K as a family is making sure you have the right equipment. You can't run (or even walk long distances) comfortably in jeans, so you obviously need some yoga pants or some gym shorts. Those are easy to find at any department store. I also like splurging on socks. At first, it sounded crazy to spend $15 on one pair of socks, but after feeling the difference, so worth it. And, of course, you need great walking shoes.
Important: training for distance (even if it's just 3.1 miles), you need to take care of your feet! Taking care of your feet by wearing good shoes will also take care of the rest of your body (think knees, hips, etc). There are several brands of walking shoes available, but the ones we tried out for review this week are called Vionic Zen Walkers.
Because they didn't have my size, I had Gracelynn try them out. She and Rachel actually wear the same size, so Rach tried them, too. She said they were comfortable, and airy, without being too bouncy.
When purchasing a walking shoe, try it on or go for shoes that have been recommended by trusted friends (or bloggers, like me!). Wear a shoe that feels great (not just good) on your feet. Chances are, you're going to walk several miles a day while training for your 5K, so go big or go home! Spending $100+ on a walking shoe is 100% worth it. Don't go for hype – color doesn't matter when it comes to a good walking shoe. I will wear the ugliest shoe out there if it takes care of me while training!
Vionic has many shoes to choose from – different colors, styles, etc – and they have many great features you might want to check out:
Motivating your significant other might be difficult. Rachel has always been on board with exercising, 100%, so I don't have much experience with pushing a grown adult to get off their ass. If Rach is feeling lazy, I simply moo at her (no joke – it works for us), and she's up and moving. If your partner isn't interested in exercising, perhaps showing them your results will help them get up and move. In my experience, motivating kids has been pretty easy, too. They know they don't really have a choice when it comes to being healthy. It's not an option to be unhealthy in our family.
My girls are 12, 9, and 7. Practice is a lot less fun than the real thing, so I like to offer a little extra motivation for the training portion of the 5K. If they do well on the 5K, we get yogurt afterwards – or will go home and make smoothies – something healthy, but fun.
The big reward for training (without too much whining). I suggest finding a fun run, like the Color Fun Fest, for their first 5K. Bring a bandana and/or goggles to cover their faces. Since Saff has asthma, she has to wear a medical mask to keep from breathing in the cornstarch, but we've completed several color runs without incident.
Tip: Always have a plan for “what if”, in case you get separated. Gracelynn and I got separated at a HUGE color run, and I flipped out! She was fine – she ran to the finish line and was waiting impatiently for me to get there. Meanwhile, I searched for her for 15 minutes, thinking the worst. So, always have a plan! And if your kids are too young to remember their phone number, write it with permanent marker on their arm.
While it's tempting to get donuts for breakfast (because they're quick and easy), good nutrition is so important, it's really not something you can skimp on. If you're feeling super lazy, or you're truly too busy to cook a good breakfast, make a vegetable juice or smoothie. Believe it or not, your kids will most likely love them, once they get past them being green. If they're really picky, put them in a cup so they can't see the color. Add some peanut butter (yay, protein!), and before they realize the smoothie is green, they'll fall in love with the taste and you won't have to worry about it.
Tip: Pack a small backpack with granola bars or trail mix, and lots of water, while you're training – and for the 5K.
This post got really long, really fast, so I'm going to keep this portion short and sweet. Training for a 5K is amazingly easy. I know that 3.1 miles might seem like a lot at first, and that running it seems impossible, but I promise you it's not. If it's too cold, start by training inside – but do yourself a favor and get outside to train at least a few weeks before your first 5K, because training inside is much easier.
Training should be completed at least 3 times each week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each time (preferably 45 minutes). Take the kids for a short walk (1-2 miles) on one day, and then do some yoga with them at the park (or inside) for another 15 minutes. Depending on your kids' ages, they should be able to do this as long as they're school aged. Mix it up with bike rides, dance games on the wii, or even roller skating. Doing this will make it seem less like training and more like fun! We like to switch things up by taking the girls to the hiking trails.
On race day, make sure everyone is well rested, hydrated, and fed (light foods). Celebrate afterwards with some frozen yogurt!