The 4-Week 5K Challenge Anyone Can Master

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If you're not a runner, the prospect of signing up for a 5K can be really scary. It can feel like committing to climb Mount Everest. But, training for a race doesn't have to be uncomfortable or unpleasant. To prove it, we enlisted training consultant and creator of the Run Walk Run method, Jeff Galloway, to teach us how to get physically and mentally 5K-ready in just four weeks.

On each of the next four Fridays, we'll be sharing a calendar with action items for the week — including three essential rest days — plus insight from Galloway on how to stay motivated and keep injuries at bay.

Got the finish line in sight? Good. It’s time to lace up your sneaks and get out there.

How To Master A 5K In 28 Days: Week 3

You've been walk-running for two weeks now — consider us impressed. You're strength training every week, doing your light cardio, and taking advantage of those rest days with well-deserved Netflix marathons. Now that you're halfway (!) through the program, you're ready to dive deeper into the world of postural muscle strengthening and bust the myth that stretching is always a good thing.
Believe it or not, a little muscle tightness can actually reduce your chance of injury and make running easier. Some research even indicates that stretching may encourage injuries in distance runners. Galloway suggests you skip it. Instead, he recommends massages (you don't have to ask us twice), including self-massage using tools such as foam rollers. But, there is one exception to the no-stretching rule: your iliotibial (IT) band, which runs down the outside of your upper leg. If yours feels tight, stretch it before or after a run-walk — or whenever it starts to hurt. In place of additional stretching, try Galloway's favorite injury-preventing, postural-muscle-strengthening moves.
1. The Toe Squincher: Point your toes until the toe muscles cramp; then, release. Repeat 10 to 30 times a day. This prevents plantar fasciitis and strengthens the feet and ankles.
2. Arm Running: To strengthen your back, shoulders, and neck, hold dumbbells  — use a weight that makes you feel tired after a set of 10 — while standing, and go through the same range of motion you would while running. Keep weights tucked close to your body. Start with one set of 10 and work your way up to three to five sets, once or twice per week.
3. Crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the ground. Raise your torso off the floor a few inches and return to your starting position. It's important to use a limited range of motion to avoid risking injury. Work up to about 40 crunches per day.
The best thing about these exercises? You can do them whenever, wherever — no sneakers or leaving your bedroom required.