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June 08, 2012


Training for a 5K race: Start out slow, stay consistent to compete

By Geneve N. Mankel, Public Affairs Staff

Almost anyone can train to run in a 5K (3.1 miles) event, but there are a few things people should do to ensure they are doing it safely, effectively and efficiently, said Julie Pressler.

Pressler, a personal trainer at the Rumpel Fitness Center who has been a runner most of her life, said the only thing needed to start running is a good pair of running shoes and motivation.

PHOTO: Participants in the Wellness Fair 5K run begin the race near the fitness center. Photo by Liz Weaver
Participants in the Wellness Fair 5K run begin the race near the fitness center. (Photo by Liz Weaver)

Individuals who have or may have an underlying medical condition should consult their doctor before starting a running program, Pressler said.

“Start out easy, stick to flat paths or run on a treadmill with a low incline,” Pressler said.

For someone who has no running experience, the three-week rule also is a good idea, Pressler said. Stick to the same routine for about three weeks before progressing.

For example, someone who has just begun a running routine or is brand new to exercise can begin by walking for 30 minutes, at least three days a week (on non-consecutive days) for about the first three weeks. Running can then be gradually mixed in. For every two to four minutes of walking, run for 15-60 seconds. Eventually there will be more running and less walking until walking is completely phased out.

Whether a beginner or a seasoned runner, gradual increases in distance and speed can help reduce burn out or injury, Pressler said. But everyone is different, so it’s key to listen to your body.

Taking a slow and consistent approach worked for novice runner Nicole Halverson, Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) Outdoor Recreation administrative assistant.

Fort McCoy 5K events

Fort McCoy holds 5Ks and other running events throughout the year.

Events held at Pine View Campground and Whitetail Ridge Ski Area are open to the public; others are open only to the Fort McCoy community.

Walkers also are welcome to participate in the events.

Personnel can register at the Rumpel Fitness Center, building 1122; the campground office, building 8053, for events at Pine View; or via the webtrac website at https://webtrac.mwr.army.mil/webtrac/

For more information call the fitness center at 608-388-2290.

Prizes are awarded to first- and second-place finishers in each category.

The upcoming Fort McCoy running event schedule is:
Thursday, June 14 – Army Birthday Commander’s 5K Run Challenge
Saturday, July 7 – Forever Free 5K at Pine View Campground
Saturday, Aug. 25 – Mud Run at Pine View Campground
Wednesday, Sept. 12 – Road Kill 5K
Wednesday, Oct. 31 – Halloween Relay
Thursday, Dec. 20 – Frosty Foot Race
January 2013 – Snow Adventure Race at Whitetail Ridge Ski Area.
February 2013 – Indoor Triathlon

“I’d never run three miles before,” she said. “I always wanted to run and decided to start training for my first 5K event earlier this year.”

With the help of Pressler, Halverson, who had participated in other exercise activities, began training four days a week by running one mile and gradually increasing the distance, Halverson said.

“We would run during lunch time,” Halverson said. “We started running on the three-mile route and went just a little further each time. It’s also good to take the same route so you can see your progress each time you run.”

For Halverson, training for the events is a stress reliever. She said she feels great and has more energy than ever.

Halverson completed her first 5K event in La Crosse in April and plans to run more events at Fort McCoy.

Those who have prior running or exercise experience can reap benefits from the 5K distance, said Misty Brown.

During her years in the Army, Brown helped dozens of Soldiers max the run portion of the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) by having them run 5K distances.

Brown, now a contract specialist at the Mission and Installation Contracting Command and an avid runner for more than 31 years, said she tells runners to start out with a slow, two-mile jog, and then add a mile or two every two weeks depending on how they feel.

“Every runner is different,” Brown said. “I think where most people go wrong is when they start out, they start out running long and fast and then, of course, quit because they are injured or it’s just too much.”

Brown started running track in middle school and cross country in high school. She has since competed in the Army Ten-Miler eight times, numerous half marathons, the Milwaukee Marathon, and the majority of 5K runs offered at McCoy. Brown has placed first in several McCoy races in her age/gender category, including the 2012 Wellness Fair 5K May 9.

Richard Mancl, 88th Regional Support Center support services specialist and Army reservist, began running competitively two years ago.

“I used to hate running,” Mancl said. “But I needed to lose weight, and bike riding wasn’t helping.”

As Mancl began running he saw his weight drop along with his running time, and he became hooked on the sport.

“It’s important for people interested in running a 5K event to build a cardio base first,” Mancl said. “They should give themselves about three months to train to build endurance and lower-leg muscles.”

Runners with a good cardio base can incorporate interval training to help increase speed for racing, he said.
Mancl said running 5Ks has helped improve his two-mile APFT time.

“I’ve completed my best two-mile time since I started running 5Ks,” he said. “That distance helps raise your VO2 max (maximum amount of oxygen used during intense or maximal exercise) and that can help with increasing speed for two-mile runs.”
Mancl said runners should pay attention to their bodies; if anything feels out of the ordinary they should stop, rest or seek medical attention as necessary.

Along with the 2012 Wellness Fair 5K event, Mancl has competed in five McCoy races, the Army Ten-Miler, several area races and a marathon. Mancl has placed first in five of the McCoy races.

Mancl said he enjoys running in the 5K events at McCoy because the races are convenient and the routes are well-planned.
The Fort McCoy DFMWR hosts monthly running events at Fort McCoy, said Adam Hangartner DFMWR Outdoor Recreation Fitness/Program Manager trainee, who also helps coordinate running events on post.

These events give installation personnel a fun alternative to physical training or fitness routines, Hangartner said. People also like the friendly competition fostered by the events and the camaraderie between all who participate.

“The 5K events at Fort McCoy are good for beginners because they are smaller and less intimidating,” Halverson said. “There are also people throughout the course to give directions and provide motivation. The terrain also is good for beginners.”

“The staff at Fort McCoy does a fabulous job organizing these running events,” Brown said. “The routes are safe and they seem to genuinely enjoy being there for us.”

Fort McCoy has multiple routes that personnel can use to train for a 5K event, said Hangartner. A half-mile outdoor running track is available at East Eaton Road and South O Street.

Marked one-, two-, three- and five-mile routes begin near the fitness center, building 1122. Runner-friendly hiking trails are available at Pine View Campground and are open to the public. Treadmills are available at the fitness center and at the Community Activity Center, building 2000, for authorized patrons.

For advice on beginning a running program, contact the fitness center at 608-388-2290 to talk with a personal trainer. The trainers are not running coaches but can offer tips and pointers about running and overall fitness programs.

Beginners who start a training routine now can be ready to run the Sept. 12 Road Kill 5K at Fort McCoy, Pressler said.
More information about starting a running regimen also can be found at the American Council on Exercise website at www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2652&category=20

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