The Perfect Mantra for Your First 5K Race

Newbie runners, this is how to calm your pre-race nerves.



Spring running season is finally here! We are heading right into great weather, longer days and the excitement of fun outdoor activities.

Many people are nervous about running a 5K because they think they’re not “real runners.”  But yet, they are fit and healthy. They use the elliptical, they walk, they take Spin classes, they ride their bikes. But ask them if they want to join you on a 5K, and the answer is, “I don’t run.”

I get it. I was incredibly anti-running for years. I didn’t run a race until I was 36 years old. In my mind, fitness and running were completely different and exclusive activities. While I could take a spinning class, I was convinced that I could never run one whole mile. 

In fact, the only reason that I started running was because I felt obligated to run a 5K charity race that my mother was coordinating. The night before that first race, I was nervous as I felt convinced that all of the “real runners” would leave me in the dust. When I arrived at the race, however, I realized that most of the runners weren’t elites. They were running to have fun and to support a good cause. I had a great time at the race and realized that I was, in fact, fit enough to run a little over three miles.

Running newbies, like myself, tend to forget that running is no different from other forms of cardio. So I use a simple running mantra that reminds me of this fact.

The mantra that I use when running a 5K is simple, straightforward and effective. “I can do cardio for 30 minutes,” I tell myself over and over again.

It reminds me that running is just cardio. If I can use the elliptical or ride a bike for 30 minutes, I can probably run a fun and relaxed 10-minute mile for 30 minutes, too. No pressure, just one foot in front of the other.

If you’ve never done a race before, don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Remember: running is just cardio, and there’s no such thing as a “real runner.” A real runner is anyone, well, who runs.

Sign up for a great spring race now. You can do it!


Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital and in private practice in Bryn Mawr, PA.  To learn more about her practice, go here. And to read more of Lauren’s posts for Be Well Philly, head over here.

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