The Amazing Benefits Running Provides (plus My Personal Training Plan for a 5K Race and Beyond) | The BridgeMaker

The Amazing Benefits Running Provides (plus My Personal Training Plan for a 5K Race and Beyond)

By on Sep 21, 2009


The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is I had the courage to start. – Ann Trason

With everything going on in my life right now, I have decided to add training for a 5K race to the mix. The challenge is not to finish, but to complete the 3.1 miles in less than 25 minutes. Accomplishing this goal, I believe, will provide a boost in my confidence to face other challenges confronting me right now.

Race day will be Thanksgiving Day, November 26 – in nine weeks. I have been exercising regularly for the past seven years, but not with a definite goal in mind other than to watch my weight and to keep my heart strong. A 5K race seems like the right event for me because the distance is not overwhelming. Training for a marathon, or even a half-marathon, would require more time than I am able to devote.

I have nine weeks to build my strength and endurance to finish the race in 24:59, or less. The training will give me with an opportunity to test my physical abilities. The benefits of running have been well documented. It does help to maintain my body weight and to help keep me looking young and vibrant, but the real reason I have decided to train for the 5K race is to enjoy the intangible benefits running provides.

Running Through the Wall

Running can test how far we really want to go. Running can make us crave to see the finish line, while refusing to stop until we get there. Running is personal and private. As our feet strike against the pavement and move straight ahead, our minds are free to wander in any direction they choose. Running is something we sometimes hate to do, but love the feeling afterwards.

Running is particularly good for my soul. In an odd twist of irony it allows me to catch my breath and puts my life into a slower motion so I can see the true progress I’m making.

Running provides the momentum necessary to appreciate the good things in my life. Over the next nine weeks, I’m looking forward to realizing more of the amazing benefits running provides:

  • Commitment to a goal
    This blog post is a public commitment to a goal. The goal is not only to go through with running the 5K race, but to do it in less than 25 minutes. Public accountability can be a good thing when the motivation for doing so is sincere.

    There will be days when I’m scheduled to run (see my personal training plan below), but think of every excuse not to run. Remembering this commitment, and the other commitments I have made to myself, will keep me motivated to reach my goals.

  • Finish what I start
    I want to finish the nine week training program and I want to finish the race in the designated time. Running is life’s perfect metaphor to finish what we start. There are some other things that will require my attention after the race and I want to finish those things, too.
  • The confidence spill-over effect
    I like how I look and how I fit in my clothes when I’m in a running phase. I like the feeling of motivating myself to run and then enjoying the exhilarating feeling of running through the wall about halfway through.

    Running gives me confidence that spills over into other parts of my life. This dose of confidence fills me with a sense of empowerment that reminds me I can run through any wall or run over the obstacles placed before me.

  • Productive way to deal with stress
    For me, running is a better alternative than reaching for a glass of wine or aimlessly surfing the internet. Stress, like sweat, begins to seep out of my body and then drips away.
  • Focus on one task at a time
    When I’m running; that’s it, that’s all I’m doing. My focus is to get started, run at my personal pace and then to finish. Running reminds me that when my concentration is on one thing, there is a better chance I will successfully complete the task at hand.
  • Willpower
    Willpower is needed to see the run through to the end. Willpower is needed to ignore the tweak in my knee. Willpower is needed to schedule 75 minutes; five days of the week and do everything possible to accomplish each workout.

    The willpower gained from running can be extended to other areas in my life which could benefit from some perseverance, too.

My Personal Training Plan

This is my plan. I’m sharing it to provide some context for the type of training that will be required. Please consult with your medical doctor or health care provider before stating your own training plan.

A 5K race is more about strength than it is endurance. While 3.1 miles is not a very long race compared to 10K and longer events, the distance should not be underestimated – 3.1 miles is still a long way to run. However, having good upper-body strength is beneficial to “gut-through” the three+ miles at a quick pace. Knowing I need to build cardio endurance and strength, here’s my personal training plan:


Run: 35 minutes or four miles on a treadmill (I’m trying to nurture a bad knee, so I will mix-in runs on a treadmill with outdoor running. A treadmill absorbs the shock better than a paved street does).
Strength Training: 30 minutes of weight training. The focus will be on either arms and shoulders or chest and back depending on what I focused on the last time I did strength training.


Rest day – it’s important to give my body time to recover and heal.


Run: 3.1 miles, outside and at race speed (or as hard as I can run in the early weeks. I will build my pace to eight-minute miles over the nine week training period.)
Strength Training: 100 push-ups.


Run: 30 minutes, outside and at a comfortable pace (nine-minute miles, for example)
Strength Training: 100 push-ups.


Cardio: 30 minutes on an elliptical machine (it’s best to give my body some variety and to protect my knee).
Strength Training: 30 minutes of weight training.


Another rest day.


Run: 35 minutes or four miles on a treadmill.
Strength Training: 30 minutes of weight training.

Additional 5K training resources

25 Inspiring Tips to Get You Moving

If you are inspired to enjoy the tangible, and the intangible, benefits of training for a 5K race, consider these basic tips to keep you healthy and motivated:

  1. Register for a race as soon as you feel inspired to do so. Check out Runner’s World Race Finder to locate a race near you.
  2. Find an accountability partner. This can be someone who will run with you or will monitor your personal training plan.
  3. Running gets easier. Stick with it.
  4. Understand, and accept, that each time your run will not be a good run. Some days, just like in other parts of our lives, are better than others.
  5. Run for yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other runners you see. You have your reasons and goals for running – stay within yourself.
  6. Don’t over think it.
  7. Find some motivational songs to keep you going and put these on your MP3 player and then plug-in and go.
  8. Start a running journal or blog to record your progress as well as your thoughts, emotions and feelings.
  9. Running is not an excuse to eat everything in sight – runners can gain weight, too.
  10. Drink approximately eight glasses of water on the days you are scheduled to run.
  11. To assist your body in recovering after a run, eat and drink in the hour immediately after your run.
  12. Pace yourself through your training program. Do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent per week.
  13. Do not run at your “race pace” on back-to-back days.
  14. Put self-pride aside and put ice on your aches and pains as soon as you feel them; but don’t ice for more than 20 minutes.
  15. If you have not been running, create a training plan that keeps your distances short at first, and then build to longer distances as you go. This will help to avoid injury or soreness so you don’t quit.
  16. Pick a convenient outdoor route. The easier you make it for yourself, the more likely you are to stick with it.
  17. Spend your time on running and training; not looking for the latest running gadgets and apparel.
  18. If you can’t finish a scheduled a run, remember this: There is no shame in walking.
  19. Subscribe to a running magazine.
  20. Did you know four laps around your high school track equals one mile?
  21. Practice running hard in the last phase of your run. This is when your muscles are the most flexible.
  22. Race day is not the day to wear new shoes.
  23. When running outdoors, run facing traffic.
  24. And never assume a car sees you.
  25. Forgive yourself if you miss a run or get off your schedule for a period of time – life can get in the way. Training for a 5K should be enjoyable; not stressful.

The Starting Line

The next nine weeks will be a test. My commitment, focus, confidence and willpower will be tested each day. There will be days, I’m sure, when I’m lacking the energy to train or believe no matter how hard I try, I will not be able to run the 3.1 miles in less than 25 minutes.

When these days happen, I will remember the times when I started, and finished, and how good I felt afterwards. My personal training plan is also a blueprint for how I want to approach the others parts of my life.

My training plan will remind me to hit some days harder than others and to rest along the way. It will strengthen my confidence and deepen my willpower. Training for the 5K race provides the courage to step up to the starting line and begin moving in the direction I want to go.

When I cross the finish line, I will look for the clock. If it’s less than 25 minutes, I will allow myself to celebrate. It it’s more than 25 minutes I will celebrate the courage it took to start. Regardless of the finishing time, I will remember what someone told me several years ago, “The training is never over.”

On November 27, I will start again. Perhaps stronger and with more confidence to stick to a plan made just for me.

A p90x workout can help you train for better stamina.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • Yesterday was race day. I’m happy to report that I ran the face in 24:10! Thanks for all the support.

  • all good things

  • @ Mark: Thanks for the sound advice. I will certainly keep it in mind.

  • Mark Zulas

    Be careful Alex, running is very addictive. I started with very similar goals to yours some years back. The next thing you know, you will be running marathons. Take care of that knee. Please keep in mind that you can run through pain but not an injury.
    One more thing, when running gets old, you might find yourself in triathlons!
    Good luck reaching your goals and enjoy the journey you are on.

  • @ Alex: A 10K in two months – now that’s amazing!