Getting off the couch and running is exactly what hundreds, if not thousands, of people do every weekend in the spring, summer and fall. The trend of running a 5K race has grown in popularity and notoriety to the point that someone could conceivably run a 5K every weekend during warmer weather, according to running coach and owner of Heaven & Earth Day Spa in Windham Maura Malia.
“Running has just grown exponentially over the last few years,” she said. “It’s very popular and there are apps you can download.”
Not everyone is born a runner, but with a little help running may be a new passion.
It takes most people 10 to 12 weeks to build up their skills to run a 5K, especially if they are not active, said Malia. By using an app or a coach to help motivate someone to try a run/walk and if it’s done gradually, “You find out you love it,” said Malia.
Starting out, run slow. Pace is important. Malia suggested still being able to talk to someone while you’re running is a good measure of exertion.
“We’re not Kenyans. We’re not going to win any awards. We want to like running,” she said. “A 5K is an attainable goal for just about anyone who wants to run.” Races provide a goal and motivation to get into shape. Some people look at a 5K race and work toward that date.
“A lot of people want to run, but are scared to,” she said and suggested that someone who is nervous should go as a group. “If you do it, I’ll do it.”
5Ks are good for new runners, but marathoners use them as speed workouts and walkers use them as a nice scenic walk. “They reach a wide range of people,” said Malia.
One runner said, “You’ve paid a lot for this race. Slow down and enjoy it.”
In addition to the conditioning, races are fun. Some do them for the “bling” of a medal or to get a special tech-material t-shirt. Many 5Ks support charities. “It’s nice to know you’re running a race to support something,” said Malia.
The Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 5K at Hadlock Field are family-oriented. The 10K Duo Duel Relay encourages partners to sign up to each run a 5K, but there is accountability. There is a St. Patrick’s 5K and a 5K Jingle Bell Run in December. There is also a 5K where at the end beer awaits at RiRa’s.
If 5Ks are a piece of cake, there are a few known 10K races, like the Beach to Beacon race held in August of every year. That race has gotten so popular that when registration opens, it closes in four and a half minutes, completely full. “That’s the race to run in. You have to run it at least once,” said Malia. There is also a 10K at L.L. Bean over the fourth of July.
Runners have their own way of thinking. Some figure if they race in the morning they can eat all they want the rest of the day, said Malia. There is also the “runner’s high” that according to Malia is not a myth. “You get to a place where you’re so happy,” she said.
Having a coach isn’t crucial with phone apps available like “Couch to 5K”. However, if someone doesn’t know where to start, or needs someone to be accountable to, it might be a good place to start. Also if a runner wants to get better, a coach could help.
There are health benefits to running, according to Malia, including losing weight, maintaining weight, naturally wanting to eat better, psychological benefits and bringing friends together.
“Anyone can run. It’s like life. Embrace it, slowly make progress and say you’ll love it. You probably will love it,” Malia said.