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Sofa to 5K Training Tips

In two to three months, you can go from slug to star with this 5K training plan.

Psych Yourself Up -- and Off the Couch continued...

When you have worked up to a 1K, Comana suggests, "Do a self-evaluation." Ask yourself what words come to mind when you finish. If you are thinking pain and fatigue, he says, you're probably doing too much. "If you feel energized," he says, "it's a good indication you will continue."

Each time you meet a ''process'' goal, reward yourself, he suggests. "Go see a movie, buy yourself some training gear."

You can also focus in on the intrinsic rewards of exercise, such as your newfound joy of movement, your gratification at meeting a goal, your sense of accomplishment. 

Write down the reasons you want to do the 5K, Comana suggests. It might be to improve your health, lose weight, look better in your clothes. Then list the obstacles, such as: you have to get up earlier to squeeze in the training, you need to buy a good pair of running shoes. The pros probably outweigh the cons, which is motivating.

Getting Into Shape

Jeff Galloway, an Olympian and veteran running/walking coach, is good at taking the intimidation out of a 5K. He tells prospective joggers and walkers:  ''The bottom line for training for a 5K is very simple. You just need to build up your long weekend run to about 4 miles. That makes the 5K relatively easy to do."

Before sedentary people freak at the 4 miles, hear the rest of the advice from Galloway, who has written numerous books, including Running Until You're 100.

You can walk-run the event or even walk the entire event. Galloway says he and his wife, who are both veteran marathoners, take walk breaks throughout running the 26.2 miles of a marathon.

Here is Galloway's ''crash course'' version of his training plan. (For more specifics, see his training chart at the end of this article.)

First, pick the date for your 5K. It should be two or three months away.

If you plan to walk the entire 5K, you can get by with much less training time than if you plan to jog or run all or part of it, he says.

Galloway's training plan works for busy 9-to-5'ers.  He suggests keeping Tuesday and Thursday runs to 30 minutes or less -- even briefer in the beginning, starting at 10 minutes -- and doing the long run (actually a run-walk) on the weekend. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are devoted to walking or cross training (XT), and Saturday is a day off. Cross training involves alternating your walking/jogging routines with other forms of exercise to increase your performance and overall fitness without stressing your body to the max.

"Back up from the date of the race," he says. ''One week before, do the last long run, which could be a 4-miler. The weekend before that, say 3.5 miles. Count back a half mile each week."

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