Have you ever ran or walked a 5k before? They are short enough so you don’t spend hours running, and can be a great beginner race to those just starting out. It is 3.1 miles, and a realistic goal that is enjoyable and satisfying to achieve! This is a list of five benefits to doing a 5k

1) Shape and define your legs

Runners tend to have nice legs. Usually toned, tan, and muscular, and training for a 5k will get you up to speed for getting your own pair of lean legs.

• Calves: These muscles are quickly toned by running, the more you flex them, the better they will look! A proper runner’s stride has your foot landing in a rolling motion, heel to toe. So push off with your toes and feel your calves flex through the motion. If you want a more challenging run, try the sand or grass to make sure your working at a pace suitable for your fitness level.

• Glutes or “Butt:” Running is a great tool to firm up your butt. To get the flab to lean, try running on a hill or on a 5-6 incline on the treadmill, this will surely burn the fat quicker.

• Thighs: Running will help you slim the thighs in the right places, as long as you challenge yourself and keep the consistency.

2) Most 5k’s will support a cause

When you participate in a 5k, you will be getting in awesome shape, and also be supporting a cause. Many 5K races are put on by charities or non-profit organizations. Many times you have the opportunity to raise funds and community awareness through your involvement. Statewide Ford and the YMCA are partnering together to provide a Warriors in Pink 5k to support Breast Cancer through the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The 5k run/walk will be held on Sept. 6 beginning at 8 a.m. at the Van Wert High School Track in conjunction with the Health Aware Fair also located at the Van Wert High School. The 5k cost is $25 if you register on or before Aug. 27. You can register online at vwymca.org, by calling (419) 238-0443, or stopping by the YMCA front desk.

3) Tone and tighten your stomach

As I always say, running will burn a ton of calories, and whip your cardio system in top condition. You will be glad to see a drop in body fat, and begin to look tight and toned. Running is an amazing way to transform your body, but just running alone won’t do it. Working with weights is equally important as cardio and running. Weight training will give you:

• Raised metabolism: Weight Training will raise your metabolism for a long period of time, even after the workout is over. Put simply, you will burn more calories throughout the day after a resistance workout. Exercising with weights will add muscle tone you your body, which will actually boosts your metabolism. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn while you sleep

• Upper body muscle tone: Running is a great way to lean and tone your lower body, but keeping the body balanced with upper body toning is important as well. Keeping the body symmetrical with the lower body will give you a nice fit look.

• Confuse the muscles: There are endless variations of exercises which will always keep your body guessing, which will keep you from hitting that dreaded plateau. Doing the same thing over and over will keep you from getting to your goals and will ensure a boring and less effective workout. Be sure to switch up your exercises!

4) Connect with other fitness oriented people

Signing up for a 5k is an easy way to make new friends. There are many running groups you can join in the community which can assist you in running, and keep you motivated through the challenges. You might even make a lifelong friend!

5) Helps start a habit

Many people have a hard time believing there is such a thing as a “runners high.” Often times those who don’t believe it don’t run themselves. Racing is addicting! The more you do it, the more endorphins are released, which will make for an awesome feeling after running. Common symptoms are euphoria, good mood, suppressed appetite, and more.

Give running a try today! Start off slow, maybe only 15 mins and gradually work your way up. Some tips to make the 5k a good experience:

• Talk to your doctor. You should always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, and training for a 5K is no exception. Once your doctor gives you the green light then jump in with your training.

• Don’t overexert. Increase your mileage over a period of months. Take your time and enjoy it.

• Drink water. Always keep your body hydrated with water to keep you energized. If you are going for more than one hour, drink a low calorie sports drink like Gatorade.