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

Step one, he says, is not thinking about the 3 miles, which can be intimidating, but the steps it takes to get there. ''Think about the process,"' Comana tells WebMD. That breaks down what might seem intimidating -- run 3+ miles when you have yet to run 1 -- into manageable chunks.

For instance, you may tell yourself: "Long term, I am getting ready for a 5K. But for the next two weeks, my process goal is to be able to get off the couch and jog or walk at a reasonable pace. I will try 1K."

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.

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