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Experts Share Tips for TCO Vikings 5K

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EAGAN, Minn. — The TCO Vikings 5K on Oct. 20 is just around the corner.

The annual event will be held at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center for the first time, and participants will finish on the 50-yard line at TCO Stadium.

In addition to the unique setting, the TCO Vikings 5K has a start time of 3 p.m., which is a departure from events that often start in the morning, and will have a festive tailgate atmosphere at the finish. Participants can enjoy live music, games and concessions, plus receive autographs from Vikings Legends.

Visit Vikings.com/5K to register.

Sara Conrad, a physical therapist assistant, is one of the running experts at TCO. She said a 5K "provides a different challenge for each athlete whether new or experienced."

Conrad explained that the 5K distance (3.1 miles) is great for participants of all ability levels and allows multiple types of goal-setting, ranging from finishing at any pace to running for a continuous 3.1 miles to setting a personal record.

Conrad shared the following tips for first-time 5K participants:

Congrats on signing up for your first 5k! Here are a few tips for a smooth race:

1. Organize all of your race things the evening before (set out running outfit, shoes, etc). This helps decrease nerves and saves time the day of the race.

2. Get to the race site (an hour) early to have appropriate amount of time to park, pick up your race packet and proper time to warm-up.

3. Do not do anything differently on race day (no new shoes, new socks, etc). Stick to your plan.

4. Do not overdress for race. Bring dry clothes to change into for after the event (you will want to celebrate your accomplishment afterwards with your friends).

5. Hydrate before, during and after event (water, electrolytes).

6. Run at your own pace, not someone else's pace.

7. Run with your friends!

8. Have fun!

Conrad also explained it is helpful for participants to maintain their normal routines during the final week before an event.

"This includes diet, sleep and training," Conrad said. "Stick to your regular diet and avoid eating new cuisines/foods the day before the race. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep throughout the week, as being well-rested will help you on race day. If you are someone that usually runs every day, make sure that the day before is a light day; or if you run only a few days a week you could take the day before the race off."

Lilly Lind, is a physical therapist who also is a running expert at TCO, shared tips for proper warm-up and cool-down exercises.

Lind recommended that participants warm-up for 10 to 20 minutes by implementing dynamic stretches instead of static hold stretches.

"Dynamic stretches allow the muscles to warm up and focus on increasing range of motion in your joints," Lind said.

A dynamic warm-up routine, Lind said, would consist of performing the following in a 10-yard stretch:

Pulling knee to chest: use hands to pull one knee to chest while you are up on your toes;

Hamstring kick-outs: grab under thigh with both hands, extend leg and hold for two seconds, knee should be above hip height;

Walking lunges: step into lunge, keep knee behind and over second toe, lengthen through the back leg;

Butt kicks: as you jog forward for 10 yards, focus on bringing heel to bottom alternating legs;

High knees: as you jog forward, focus on bringing knee up toward chest alternating legs.

Lind then suggested that participants walk briskly for five minutes before jogging or accelerating to one's race pace for another five minutes before the start of the race.

Also important is a proper cool-down.

"After running, your muscles will be tired and possibly feel tight," Lind said. "This is when you want to stretch your muscles and provide them with some relief. You should focus on the major muscle groups and hold stretches for 30 to 60 seconds and ease body into stretch.

"Focus on stretching glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, groin, hip flexors, as well as upper back/lower back," Lind added. "You can also use a foam roller to help decrease tension in muscles. If you roll, roll for about three to five minutes in each area.

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