The first goal for most people when moving from a sedentary lifestyle to becoming more physically fit, is to make running a 5K their first benchmark. From there some move to 10Ks, ½ marathons to marathons.
A 5K is a good distance, since it is an event that really tests your VO2 max.
Dr. Kenneth Cooper, generally considered to have begun the “aerobics” movement in the late 60s determined that the distance that one could walk or run in 12 minutes was a good measure of maximal oxygen consumption. The Cooper 12 minute run walk test.
One’s VO2 max pace is also about what you could maintain for about 3K. Based on the assumption that 12 minutes or about 3km is run at our VO2 max pace, the 5K run would be most reflective of our maximal oxygen consumption, compared to longer distances. Success in longer events will become more dependent on other fitness variables.
The fact that the 5K is very reflective of our VO2 max and usually responds quickly to early training, is a good reason to use it as our first goal.
You could run, or….Why not use a footbike and use footbiking a 5K as your first goal instead? It is lower impact, it is easier on your joints; it may eventually utilize a greater range of motion in your hip joints than running; and it you can frequently work around orthopedic issues that running may tend to exacerbate. Besides, I find it to be great fun.
I am going to suggest a plan to help you achieve your 5K footbike goal. It will be based on several assumptions.
- You and your medical professional have both decided that this activity would not be contraindicated.
- You have a footbike, have fundamentally mastered basic kicking and foot switching techniques, and understand braking and steering and the footbike is mechanically and safely operational.
- You will wear a helmet, secure your shoe laces, dress functionally, and attend to adequate hydration.
- You will select terrain that provides adequate bottom tube clearance, and manageable road hazards, such as, visibility, traffic, and awareness of potholes, etc.
- You can devote at least 20-30 minutes at least 3 times per week to training.
I am suggesting that the easiest way to start is to follow a similar program designed for walking and running a 5K. The difference, however, is to substitute time wherever the running program suggests using distance.
Footbiking on level ground is more efficient than walking or running. In a given amount of time, you will cover more distance using the same effort than walking/running.
Rather than re-invent the wheel, here is a website with a program that will allow you to reach your first 5K goal. Just remember to use time instead of distance.
What is next?
You have done your first 5K, and regular training has now become part of your lifestyle, This is one point where one has to decide whether having a good level of fitness is enough, or will you pursue higher and higher levels of aspiration, perhaps driven by more than just being fit.
Whatever your goals are, one needs to keep in mind that the relationship between increasing performance and health are not necessarily linear, but more likely a “U” shaped curve and one needs to watch for the point of diminishing returns.