Your 2006 Race For Life Training Guide

Entries for the 2006 Race for Life women-only 5K series are open! We're here to help you every step of the way...


Posted: 12 January 2006

This year, an amazing 750,000 women will be walking, jogging or running in a women-only Race for Life 5K. They'll help to raise a whopping £46 million for Cancer Research UK across 240 events. Will you be one of them?

We're here to help you every step of the way, whatever your goal for the big day.

• We're delighted to be the official training partner of Race for Life, and if you like what you read here and you'd like to try a subscription to the magazine, we'll make a £5 donation of our own to Cancer Research UK. (There's a super offer at the end of the page.)

How should I start?

If you haven't entered a Race for Life race yet, you can find out more and enter here.

Then, whether you walk or run or plan to do a bit of both, a training programme – even a very basic one – makes a huge difference. If you don't have one, there's a tried and trusted selection for walkers and runners of every speed further down the page. Unless you have serious health issues, we're assuming that you'll want to build up to jogging at least some of the way on race day.

Training help

There's further reading in our Best Beginners' Index, Best Weight Loss Index, and Best Women's Index

  • I've never run before
    ...the best way to start is a little jogging with walk breaks. It may feel odd, but you'll get twice as far, twice as quickly and feel a huge sense of achievement as you progress. More than half of the women in your Race for Life event will continue the run/walk routine right through to race day. Our beginner and intermediate programmes, below, all include walk breaks.
  • What equipment do I need?
    All you need is a properly fitted pair of shoes, a sports bra and some clothing that makes you feel good. more
  • What should I eat?
    Just a good all-round diet, with plenty of fluids and a slight emphasis on low-GI carbohydrate. Aim to eat 50-60% of your calories from carbohydrate, 20-25% from protein and 20-25% from fat. Only half-marathon runners need go wild with pasta. more
  • Will I lose weight (please...)?
    Nothing (except cross-country skiing) burns more calories per minute than running. But don't forget to eat and drink enough to exercise at your best in the first place. You'll still win out. more

  • How fast should I run?
    The easiest way to make sure you’re running at the right speed is to go with a friend and make sure you maintain ‘chatting’ pace – if you can’t talk, you’re running too hard. In the ‘brisk’ sections of the intermediate and advanced training plans you should still be able to get a few words out, even if they’re just “how much further to go?”
  • What if I get bored?
    You won’t! Going for a run or a walk means setting aside time for yourself – you can go with a friend and chat the time away, or designate it me-time. No phone, no kids, no distractions – you can concentrate on how you’re breathing, how your body is moving, or just let your mind wander and see where it takes you. What's more, every step you take builds towards your fundraising for Cancer Research UK. You're helping to save lives! more
  • Help! I'm not making progress
    We’d call going from doing no regular exercise to doing a run/walk programme pretty good progress. Don’t measure yourself against other people – if you’re running or walking further, more often, more quickly or more easily, you’re making progress. Improvements come in steps, with inevitable plateaus. more
  • Help! I have aches and pains
    Feeling a bit achy after running isn’t uncommon. Minimise it by starting and finishing each run with a few minutes of gentle jogging or walking, and do some gentle stretching when you finish your session. If your ache turns into a pain then you may need to ease up, or take a few days off running. more about whether to run through discomfort | more about stretching
  • I feel self-conscious
    Whatever shape or size you are, the very fact that you are out there, getting fitter and raising money for Cancer Research UK means you have plenty to be proud of. More likely than not, anyone who looks at you when you’re training is envious of your get-up-and-go. Whether you’re in the gym or in the park, hold your head up high. more
  • I'm behind with my schedule
    Don’t panic! Hardly anyone gets through a whole six weeks without missing or trimming a single session. If you only have time to run for half the time scheduled, do that half. If you fall behind, don’t try to accelerate through the programme: instead, repeat the earlier, easier sessions and gradually increase the time on your feet. If time is really short, you could switch to the 3-week blitz schedule, below

  • Follow a programme!

    Even a very simple training schedule will work wonders. Why? Two reasons. One is that you'll never have to wonder whether you're overdoing it or underdoing it. You'll be right on target. The other is that you'll never have to think about what to do on a particular day. You get up, your session is there; you do it. Perfect.

    You may have seen these Runner's World programmes on the Race for Life website already:

    If you already run regularly, you might prefer a slightly more advanced plan:

    Race-day help

    • How should I prepare on race day?
      The one rule: don't try anything new! Have a familiar breakfast (or afternoon snack, if it's an evening race), a glass or two of water or juice, and wear shoes and clothing you're really comfortable with. more
    • I've never been in a race before. What's it like?
      It's fantastic! Busier and friendlier than you could imagine. Just don't be tempted to dash off too fast at the start - that's the most common mistake. more
    • How fast could I (should I?) go?
      Most beginners' goal is simply to finish the race with a smile on their face, and that's what we're here to help you do. If you'd like to know what your training pace translates to, or how fast you'll need to run to hit a certain goal, see our handy calculators section
    • What if I'm last?
      You won't be, we promise. But whoever is will probably have a great time and get the biggest cheer going. more

    Don't go it alone!

    Need advice? Want to share a story? Or just fancy eavesdropping on hundreds of messages of running chat every day? Why not drop into our friendly forums? They're easy to get the hang of.

    A bit about Runner's World...

    Runner's World is the UK's biggest, friendliest running magazine, well-known for its monthly mixture of fitness, nutrition and motivation, and tips on running for all levels.

    We have a special subscription offer for Race for Life runners, which includes a free sports watch, a 10% saving off the cover price, and a £5 donation from us to Cancer Research UK – along with 12 issues of Runner's World delivered to your door, and free access to the very best articles on Runnersworld.co.uk.

    Good luck!

    How to stick to your plan


    1. Print out your plan and tick off each session as you do it, so that you can see how far you’ve come.

    2. If you have a friend who might like to run, ask her to join you on some of your runs– think of it as a chance to catch up on some gossip or pick up tips on training!

    3. Your sponsorship money is vital for the lifesaving work of Cancer Research UK so make sure you have a fundraising target. If you have a time goal, try running a sweepstake on your finishing time; visit www.raceforlife.org/fundraising for more details.

    4. Drink plenty of water before every run. Protect uncovered skin with sunscreen and start every run with five minutes of gentle walking – even if you feel confident that you can run all the way.

    5. Set yourself a goal – anything from running at least half the distance to finishing within 35 minutes. Challenge yourself, but make sure your goal is achievable.

    6. Build up gradually; don’t be tempted to run more often than planned. Even if you’ve run or walked 5K before, it’s a good idea to visit your GP for advice before starting any training programme.

    7. Wear the right shoes. Running will not feel easy if you’re in the wrong shoes, plain and simple. For help in choosing the right pair, consult our Gear section and seek out a friendly specialist running shop.

    8. Try to fit your exercise in early in the day. Running or walking early can really lift your mood for the whole day and you’re also less likely to miss a run.

    9. On race day, start slowly and don’t try to force your way through the crowds or runners ahead of you. Don’t be afraid of taking a walking break if you feel you need it.

    10. Remember it’s the taking part that counts, so just relax and have fun! There are no prizes for finishing first, and no matter where you finish, you will have achieved something amazing by being part of it and raising money for Cancer Research UK.


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