15 Tips for Running a Successful 5K (For New and Veteran Runners)

South Shore area runners and fitness trainers share tips on how to run a successful 5K.

Spring is here and that means road races are in full force. Are you running any this Spring?

Whether you favor a 5K, 10K or longer distance, proper training is critical for race success.

To get you going, I asked a few locals for their tips to successfully run a 5K. New or veteran, these tips will get you on the road to 5K success!

Good luck! And maybe I’ll see you at the starting line!

Starting Line of Running Race

Julie Orsillo – founder of Body by Orsillo, a fitness trainer and organizer of the South Shore Fitness Meetup Group – suggests the following:

  • Find a training program that works for you. If you have to modify the schedule, do it. A schedule keeps you on track. Keep running and you WILL see progress and results. Google “5K training program” for more results than you’ll ever need.
  • Find a buddy or group to train with. It can help to keep you accountable and make the process more fun.  (Consider signing up for the SouthField Classic 5K on June 21 and run as a team!)
  • Get professionally fitted for running shoes. The right fitting shoes can make a HUGE difference. (Check out Marathon Sports in Norwell or Greater Boston Running Company in Hingham)
  • Avoid surprises on race day. Avoid wearing new sneakers or clothes on race day. Train with them for a few weeks leading up to race day to ensure your new clothes are comfortable. Also, avoid new foods or energy supplements on race day. If you think you’ll need them, train with them and bring your own instead of relying on race organizers to have what you need.
  • Keep a smile on your face. You never know when the race photographer will snap a picture.
  • Enjoy the staring line energy and excitement! At the same time, stay relaxed. Find your own pace, don’t worry about keeping up with other runners and most importantly have fun!

Women Running

Beth Bellew – owner of TNT FitClub and running coach – offers these tips specifically for new runners:

  • Warm-up. A proper warm-up not only improves your run it will help avoid injury. A warm-up may include butt kicks, jumping jacks or some movement that loosens muscles and slightly elevates your heart rate.
  • Cool down. When you finish your run, walk for a couple of minutes. Avoid stopping completely and let your heart rate slow naturally. Then stretch.  Hold your stretch for at least 30 seconds and target all major muscle groups including quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and hips.
Hamstring Stretch

Simple Hamstring Stretch

  • Stay hydrated. The day before a run drink plenty of water. (Around 64 oz of water daily or half a gallon)
  • Keep your pace. On race day it’s easy to start fast with everyone around you. That is a sure way to burn out before you’re time. Keep your pace without worrying about those around you. (You may find you cross the finish line ahead of them!)
  • Celebrate your success! Once you cross the finish line, celebrate your success! Acknowledge the hard work and feel proud of what you accomplished.


As a 5K, 10K, half- and full-marathon finisher, I can’t help but add my own tips, too.

  • Get your mind into the game. Running is a mental game first. Do you believe you can successfully cross the finish line with proper training? Good, you’re ready to run. If not, work on that inner dialogue a little longer.
  • Listen to your body. Start slow and build. Feeling achy or like you might have pulled a muscle? Stop running. I know it’s not what you want to hear. Cross train, stretch or see your doctor if the condition worsens.
  • Visualize success. Sounds trite, but this is a practice many athletes use. Your thoughts guide your actions. A pre-race visualization puts you in a positive frame of mind. Not to mention relieves anxiety you might feel before the race. Imagine everything from what you’re wearing, who is around you, how you feel and your finishing time.
  • Keep running. If you want to run faster and/or longer, train for it and keep running (Unless of course you’re injured, then see bullet point above “Listen to your body”!)

Additional resources



For training schedule’s try: Couch to 5K or Hal Higdon has some great programs, too.

Find out what kind of arch you have (to determine the best type of sneaker) here.

Your turn: What are your tips for running a successful road race?


Looking for a road race this Spring?

SouthField Classic 5K Logo

Join us at the SouthField Classic 5K run/walk on June 21, 6:30pm race start at SouthField in Weymouth, MA. Sign up as an individual or with a team. Looking to join a team? Consider running or walking with Team Healthy South Shore! we’ll also have a booth at the event. Stop by and say hello! Contact me for details on joining the Healthy South Shore team. On site chair massage will be provided by Elements Therapeutic Massage in Hingham. To  register your own group visit www.southfieldclassic.com.

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Stacey Shipman is a speaker, writer and founder of Feel Good Living. Her mission is to connect people to the tools and community they need to lead healthy, meaningful lives. Stacey is the author of Turn Speaking Stress into Success and blogs about entrepreneurship at www.staceyshipman.com.

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