Get ready to (Fun) run


Our fitness expert Craig Wise gears up for the annual summer Fun Run season

I love taking part in summer fun runs, we often do them as a family and have a lot of laughs together. But the idea can be daunting if you’ve never done one before and aren’t very fit. So here is my ultimate guide on how to prepare mentally and physically for your first fun run. But be careful, it can be addictive!



Get started as soon as you register for the event. Making a training plan is the key to success. You want to aim to cover the distance with confidence, whether you plan to run, walk or jog (most of us do all three and that’s fine). Begin by getting active, go for a long fast walk at lunchtime, take the stairs whenever possible. My advice is to work up to the event distance over a period of weeks, but you don’t have to run the full length before the race. You can get yourself ready by training over 80-90% of the distance, the rest will come on the day. Increasing the distance, time or intensity of your training is the best way to hit weekly goals and get over any mental blocks. What was hard two weeks ago will become easy and eventually the 5km is no longer Mission Impossible.


Finding a friend or co-worker to do the training and fun run with you is a powerful motivator and can add a bit of a competitive edge – especially when the finish line comes into sight. Being connected with another person can help before, during and after the event. In the build-up your buddy will be there to help with getting moving. The encouragement of a friend will keep you training, especially on those days when you might not feel like it. During the run they can help with your nerves and anxiety, and you can motivate each other to keep going. After the event they are there to share the experience with – they were in the trenches with you when the going got tough at 3.5km.


Deal with those anxieties before the race. Plan ahead and find out where you are going, where you can park, where you can meet friends and family after the event. You aren’t there to break records or win prizes, you are running/walking to prove to yourself that you can do it and help raise awareness of the fun run’s charity or fundraise for a good cause. Be proud of what you’ve done and enjoy the experience.



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  1. Know the course, scope it out so you can see any little hills or places where the track may get narrow.

  2. Don’t wear brand new shoes, it’s a recipe for blisters or aching soles. By all means have new shoes but break them in first.

  3. Recruit a cheerleader. Seeing them will instantly boost your mood and they can take some photos so you will have memories of your achievement.

  4. Get your head right – before the event I plug in my headphones and go to my happy place. Relax and focus your mind on the run ahead. I don’t listen to music when I am running.

  5. Be social, it’s part of the fun. Chat with people, and you will find many are as nervous as you are.

  6. Don’t stand at the front for the start, find yourself a place mid-pack and be comfortable. Wherever you start you don’t have to keep up with those around you.

  7. Don’t go all out and run out of steam, keep it slow and steady like your training, and hold back something in reserve for that last 500 meters when your friends and family will see you.

  8. This is a fun run, no world records are at stake, so if it takes longer than expected don’t be disappointed, you finished that’s the main thing.

  9. If you are with a friend and you get separated during the run, its not the end of the world, just go with it.

  10. Smile! Even if your legs are burning and you want to stop, remember you had the courage to sign up and turn up on the day – that’s something to smile about and crossing the finish line is just the icing on the cake.

**This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Diabetes Wellness magazine. Subscribe Diabetes NZ today to receive your copy.

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Jo Chapman