Going the Distance: Five Tips to Train for a 5K While in College

Sporty fitness woman outdoor workout. Young runner woman smiling


Balancing the responsibility of school work and athletic training requires an extensive amount of time management and energy efficiency. But the benefits of finding that delicate balance always pay off. The symbiosis between focusing on your health and listening to your body can ensure success both in school and on the track.

1. Start Your Day Running

Every college student knows what a drag mornings can be. After a late night study session, it takes two cups of coffee to be able to focus long enough to understand what the lecturer is saying. Since this period is typically the time where your brain power hasn’t yet reached its peak, it’s better to start off your morning with a run to wake up and get your brain going. Listen to recorded lectures or audiobooks while running for optimum efficiency.

2. Buddy Up

It always helps to stay motivated when you have a friend cheering you on. Ideally, you’ll want to find a partner that can be your study buddy and your running buddy, so you can quiz each other on key classroom concepts while running along a bike trail. Start a competition among yourselves to encourage each other to go further, and set goals for distance and longevity for each running session. Race one another to build the competitive spirit.

3. Go Digital

Technology keeps your schedule flexible, so you can train and study on your own terms. Consider taking online courses at Penn Foster, which would make it possible to study, contribute to discussion boards and complete homework assignments on the treadmill. Use 5K training apps to help meet your goals as well, such as Couch to 5K. This free iOS app offers running playlist organization, tracking of total and interval distances and pace/distance updates while you run. The app even tells you when you’re halfway, so you know when to turn around and head back.

4. Look to School-Backed Resources

Many institutions have programs designed especially for helping students train for long distance running competitions. For example, Tufts University hosts the largest known collegiate marathon program in the U.S., called the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT). The competitions raise money to support nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at the university, while also funding research on childhood obesity for the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. You might even be able to gain college credits or extracurricular credits for participating in running competitions as well, so be sure to talk to your guidance counselor about potential opportunities.

5. Start a Routine

Consistency is key when it comes to training for a marathon. So even though midterms might be just around the corner, it’s important to maintain a solid routine when training for a marathon. For example, if you only have one class on Thursday morning, make it your goal to go running right after class ends. Allot specific times for homework and studying as well, so these habits start to become natural to you, thus making it easy to find motivation to do them in the first place.