It’s that time of the year where you make the same resolution thousands of people have made thousands of times: exercise and get into shape. You probably start out with great intentions and a discounted gym membership but come February, you’re right back at home watching a Girlfriends marathon and looking guiltily at your cross-trainers. Why not try something different and run a 5K this year?

The hardest part of starting a running program from scratch is knowing where the hell to start. You know how to put one foot in front of the other and that you’re supposed to run three to five times a week, but knowing just how to do those runs can be a challenge. A 5K comes with a set distance and an end date, making it a much more structured approach to fitness and weight loss than “I’m just gonna do it.” Programs like Cool Running’s Couch to 5K. walk you through a training program that doesn’t really work unless you stick to it. You still get to go your own pace (no Shaun T screaming at you) but you know exactly how you’re supposed to increase your workout. That means no frustration and a lower chance of injury.

It’s also easy to find running groups built around 5Ks. Sites like link you up with other people that have the same goals and are on a similar training schedule. A built-in support system will make you a lot more likely to stick to it. Best of all, at the end of the 5K, you get a finisher’s t-shirt and you’ll feel proud enough to run another 3.1 miles.

Have you run a 5K? What did you like about it?

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