Six weeks is the perfect amount of time to prepare for a 5k.
First, I want you to walk 3.1 miles and see how it feels. If you can't clock it some how, 60 minutes of walking will do. I try to do mine on trails in the woods so it doesn't feel so long. When I am on a treadmill, I feel like all I do is watch the clock. Also, studies show that working out outside helps your body get more out of the workout. Breathing the fresh air helps your lungs function better and in turn brings more blood to your muscles.
Give yourself a day to recover after the walk.
Next time you go out, I want you to warm up with 4 minutes of walking. Then try to run for 1 minute, then go back to walking for 4 minutes. Keep alternating this, 5 more times. If you don't like to time yourself, you can run half a block and then walk a 2 whole blocks and alternate that. You will want to cool down and walk for the last 4 minutes.
Don't worry if this feels too hard. Just do what you can. The key here, is to trick your body into running without totally tiring it out. Try to do this routine 3 times a week, for 1 week. Give yourself a day or two off between workouts. The rest days are just as important as the runs, to help your body recover and prevent injury.
Each week you will subtract one minute from the time you walk and add one to your run.For example, for week two, you will walk for 3 minutes and run for 2. Alternate this 6 times and you will have 30 minutes. Week three, you will walk for 2 run for 3 minutes. Week four, you will walk for 1 and run for 4. Each one alternating 6 times equaling 30 minutes. By week 5 try to run for the 30 minutes but if you need to walk a little in the middle that is just fine. Week six you should be all good!Just let me know if you need my little trainer, Arabella, who yells to me from the stroller, "run mama run!" She doesn't let me walk. She gets it honestly.
Each time you work out, please take the time to stretch. This is SOOOOOOOOOOO important. It will help your muscles prepare for the next run and prevent injury. Here are some great post-run stretches:
This quad stretch will help keep the muscles around your knees elastic and keep from pulling on them.
This stretches your IT band (the muscle that runs alongside the outside of your thigh). The IT band can get very tight from running (and from being on your feet all day, read: all moms!)
Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and take long deep breaths.
I also believe in having good shoes. I know times are tough but good shoes are an investment that can help prevent injury or even aches when they are unnecessary. My favorite is the Vibram 5 Fingers Shoes. I will write a post about them but they are the closest thing to help you have a natural stride. They help your body work the way it is suppose to and thus preventing injury. If you are in Tallahassee, The Shoe Box has a great selection.
Run Mamas Run!