Run your first 5 km

With a personal running background, I have recently started participating in triathlons. This sounds very daunting Caitlyn and definitely not something I am interested in. But the point is, I had to start somewhere.

I remember when I first started running and I couldn’t even complete 5km. I kept having to pause my watch, catch my breath and pretend to stretch something out and then try again. Yet, no matter how bad the run was, I always felt great afterwards. Endorphins – the joys of running!

Running has so many benefits – both mentally and physically! And guess what, you are never too old to start! Here are some of my key points on building up your running to complete a 5km:

  1. Building up! We all have to start somewhere and running 5km in one go is not that place. Start out with lamp post to lamp post or 30 seconds running into 3 minutes walking to catch your breath. The key thing with building up is never increase by more than 10% (this includes intensity, distance and time). This will help prevent injuries. Start with 15-20 minutes of being active: that can include a 5-10 minutes warm up (never leave this out!) and 10-15 minutes of 30 seconds running and 3 minutes walking and gradually build up from there; 5 minutes of cooling down at the end. It is important that you can walk 5km before you jump straight into trying to run 5km.
  1. Consistency is key! As with a lot of things in life, the more consistent you are, the better you will get. The same goes with running. If you can only manage 3 sessions a week, that is fine but try to keep that consistently for 3-6 months and see how you grow from strength to strength. Every session builds on the previous one and if your sessions are sporadic, it is going to take you a long time to get better at it.  A lot of people say running isn’t for me; but have you trained consistently for it?
  1. Don’t neglect strength training! This is where most ladies usually stop me and say but Caitlyn, I don’t want to get big and bulky. No, I’m not talking about body building training when I talk about strength. Certain muscles are loaded with up to 5-8x your body weight when you are running. If your muscles are not strong enough to take this load, your bones and joints will take it. Never run through an injury! It is important as we get old to do weight bearing strength training. Contact your biokineticist to help with injury prevention specific to you and more guidance on strength work to supplement the start of your running journey!
  1. Change it up! Change your routes, change your music, change your run-walk intervals (e.g. lamp post’s / time based), join a group. Runs are meant to be enjoyable and not boring.
  1. Clothing! The correct shoes and clothing will definitely go a long way and can make your runs more pleasant. No we shouldn’t get blisters running and yes chaffe is a thing but wearing the correct clothing can prevent this. Consult your health care practitioner such as a  podiatrist or running shoe specialist for more info regarding which shoes are best for you.

Most importantly, runs are meant to be fun! Take in the fresh air, feel the breeze in your hair and enjoy the scenery around you! And remember, we all have to start somewhere. I have designed a 4 week beginners running program to start your running journey. Note these are general guidelines and not specific to you and your health. If you are concerned about anything, please contact a healthcare practitioner before starting your running journey. 

About Caitlyn:

Caitlyn owns a Biokinetics practice and works with the Mi:Rehab and Performance team in both a gym and private studio in Morningside, Sandton. Caitlyn is passionate about sports and is very active, specifically in running, golf and participating in triathlons. This has sparked her passion for treating runners, triathletes, golfers and weekend warriors. By identifying individual strengths and weaknesses, she applies exercise principals to increase sports specific performance. Caitlyn loves challenging the body and mind in getting the full potential out of individuals. This has helped her in treating many sportsmen and women to achieve their goals.

Caitlyn Potgieter Biokineticist:

Mi Rehab and Performance:

Contact details: 073 313 3674 and email