Going Beyond the 5K | Make It This Year’s Goal to Graduate to the Next Level

If you’ve been running local 5Ks, and you are interested in competing in a longer distance race, there are ample reasons to go for it.

With some extra care of your body, a little cross-training, and plenty of patience, taking the next step to a 10K—and going even bigger—doesn’t need to be intimidating. And the common rewards of feeling happier, healthier, and stronger will be well worth the work it takes to get there.

Hannah Skalecke, co-owner of Elevation PT in Fayston, has some great advice for runners looking to add miles to their running routine. She works with a variety of athletes.
“Up the miles slowly,” she said. “It’s worth getting checked out by a physical trainer, too, to make sure your body is stable and neutral. Things break down faster if they are out of alignment.” She added, “It’s good to make sure your body is ready to start taking on the new miles before pushing yourself too much.”

Skalecke stresses the importance of healthy feet, and she highly recommends getting fit to a great pair of running shoes. She also suggests replacing the shoes after approximately 300 miles of running—a recommendation shared by many running pros. And, she says, without fail, after lacing up the shoes, warm up.

“Always make sure you are warmed up before you go out and run, and then gently stretch after your run,” Skalecke said. “Be aware of what your body is doing as you add on miles, and address any concerns you have sooner than later. Finding out the origins of the symptoms, and then treating those before they get out of hand, is the key to preventing injury.”

Kelly Liljeblad, a massage therapist and running/triathlon coach at On Track Health & Fitness in Burlington, has also worked successfully helping runners at all levels progress. On Track offers a variety of coaching and training programs, including online programs, for runners at all levels.

Liljeblad believes that anyone tempted to give group running a try should go for it.

“Group runs keep you going, they help you to push yourself harder, and they’re fun … so you get more out of your runs,” she said. “It’s definitely something worth trying if you haven’t already.”

Liljeblad, who treats running as a way of life, feels that one of the most important steps when adding on the miles involves getting stronger first.

“Doing some functional strength training … and drills specific to running can be incredibly helpful,” Liljeblad said. “As you get stronger, you can handle more miles and decrease your risk of injury.”

“Don’t up your mileage more than 10 percent per week,” Liljeblad added. “If you want to spend more time working out, then cross-train—water-running, swimming, cross-country skiing, cycling, anything to get your heart rate up.”

Skalecke concurred with respect to strength training and cross-training and the importance of variety in general.

“Vary your running surface. Dirt and grass or earth are best,” Skalecke said. “Hydration, good nutrition, and good rest are also really key. Pushing yourself to mix up those activities will probably make you a better runner.”

Upcoming events to take you beyond the 5K:

Lincoln Mountain Magic 5K/10K, Lincoln
Saturday, May 12
To benefit the Friends of the Lincoln Community School

J.M.M.Y Run 5K/10k & Half-Marathon, Georgia
Saturday, May 12
Supports youth programs in the area

Kingdom Run 5K/10K & Half-Marathon, Irasburg
Saturday, Aug. 11

Wednesday Night Fun Runs at Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe
Starting May 30
Runners head out along a 2.5-mile loop. Many are there for just a 5K run, but others head out for additional mileage. This is a great way to meet other runners and push yourself in a hillier environment. More info: Ryan Kerrigan.

Stowe 8-Miler (includes 3-mile/5-mile relay), Stowe
Saturday, July 15


Brian Mohr

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of Moretown own Ember Photography and publish AdventureSkier.com. They can be reached through their website, EmberPhoto.com.