September 21, 2023

First Time Running a 5K? Good Tips to Know

Interested in competitive running but not sure where to start? Have questions? Here are some answers from members of the Run Before You Fly fitness group on Facebook.

Some general tips for 5K first-timers or anyone who’s considering running a race for a fitness challenge and to contribute to a charitable cause. Your concerns, addressed!

Q: How do I find out where my local competitive races are being held?

A: Google is always a good place to start, and you can also find out who in your area might be running with a group. Join a local running group on Facebook (If you need a referral, try Suzanne’s Run Before You Fly running/fitness and wellness motivation group).

Q: What are the prerequisites for running in a race if any?

A: No prerequisite for running in a road race. People of all skill levels and abilities are welcome.

Q: What is the deadline for signing up?

A: Check the home page or sign-up page of the race you’re thinking of participating in. The deadline for signing up will be posted there. Spots are typically limited to a certain number of participants for each race. This makes sense because crowded conditions would not allow for adequate room to run.

Q: Can a person walk if he or she feels they are unable to run?

A: People run/walk in every full.

Q: Are there any medical forms to sign, waivers or this sort of thing? Is a person required to go for a physical checkup before running in a 5k or 10K race?

A: No medical forms. You are encouraged as a general good practice to speak with your health advisor if you have a medical condition that would make running in a race difficult, challenging, or create a health risk for you. Waiver forms are provided by the individual coordinator of each event.

Q: What happens if it rains?

A:  No cancellations if it rains. But if severe weather is a possibility, participants will receive an email from the organization coordinating the event. A reschedule is possible in that situation.

Q: What happens if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of running?

A: Every marathon provides Johnny on the Spot the whole course and EMT service that’s available

Q: Any other details that people who are new to competitive running may want to know?

From Suzanne of Run Before You Fly:

A: When you sign up for any race there is always a waiver that you sign along with an emergency contact form. Runners go to the bathroom anywhere they can find a place ;D and if it rains you run!!

No physical exam is technically required but as with any strenuous activity, one should always consult a physician before tackling anything of that magnitude if they’re not experienced.

There is always a cut off -time for finishing but that is listed on the race webpage as well as all the specific race and course details etc.

Special thanks to competitive runners Suzanne Swanson of, and its corresponding Facebook group by the same name, as well as Jesse Williams who leads Turn Your Life Around, also on Facebook. Special thanks to competitive runner M. Ung for her photo montage contribution.