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Training for a 5K – Run To Succeed

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Training for a 5K – Run To Succeed

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5kThinking about training for your first 5K?  Maybe you have ran 5K’s before, but are looking to improve your time.  I often talk to individuals who are interested in running 5K’s, but do not believe they can run 3.1 miles.  If you are one of those individuals that believe training for a 5K is beyond your abilities, then this article is for you.

5 kilometers (3.1 miles) races are exploding in popularity as ways to raise money, bring awareness to a cause or get a group of friends together.  You will be hard pressed to not find a local 5K just about every weekend especially this time of year. Based on figures from the Running USA Road Running Information Center, participation in 5K’s increased 72 percent from 2008 to 2012.

Why the increase in popularity?  Just about anyone, if they train enough, can run or walk a 5K, even young children and adults who aren’t in the best shape.  You don’t have to be an Olympian to run a 5K!  Color runs, zombie dashes, trail runs, ugly Christmas sweaters, and many other non-traditional themed runs are attracting a niche market of people who want to be active, but not competitive.  Some race directors, including myself, are pushing their runs to be more about the entertainment and socialization rather than competition.

A 5K is the perfect distance for both beginning runners and veterans.  New runners can pride themselves on finishing a 5K run/walk and more advanced runners can use the distance to set a new personal best.

But how do you actually train for a 5K?  There are numerous training plans available in books, magazines, and on the internet.  So, instead of me laying out a training plan for you to follow, I am going to provide you with a list of plans that I believe will work for you.  These essential workouts will help you run strong at your next race and set a new personal best.

Runner’s World has multiple 5K training plans for beginner, intermediate, and advanced runners.

Active Running offers multiple 5K training tips and strength conditioning routines for both seasoned and beginning runners.

The Couch to 5K mobile application training plan has been very popular.  The Couch to 5K app is how it sounds.  It is designed for beginners to go from the couch to running their first 5K.

RunKeeper is another mobile application designed to help you bring fitness into your lifestyle becoming healthier and more fit.  Several different training plans are offered through RunKeeper including 5K training.

Women’s Running is another venue for 5K training plans.  Whether you’re gearing up for your first 5K, you best 5K, or your fastest 5K ever, they have the perfect plan for you.

Doesn’t matter which of the many plans available that you choose, what’s important is successfully accomplishing your goals.  The Run To Succeed commitment is for you to be healthy, fit, and energetic so that you can enjoy life to the fullest and have the energy to pursue all of your ambitions.

Train hard and hope to see you at a 5K race soon!

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2014 Kids Fun And Fitness Day – Run To Succeed

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boothThe Run To Succeed team had a great time sponsoring this year’s Kids Fun and Fitness Day at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Track & Field Complex.  Despite some inclement weather that had moved in, the event was able to continue and the races were held.  A large crowd remained and the kids had lots of fun.

Dr. Tony Miksanek and the rest of the River to River Runners volunteers do a great job with this event.  Despite the foul weather, they remained positive and uplifting and exerted the confidence that the event will continue.  

The RTS team had some promotional giveaways for the kids and the Run To Succeed team even got to get involved in the relays.  A photo gallery of my family from the event is below.  We are already looking forward to next year’s event!  Promote fitness with your children and get them involved.  You won’t regret it!






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2014 Run Of Valor – Run To Succeed

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Marla Rathjen & Jeff Minus (1st overall runners)

Marla Rathjen & Jeff Minus (1st overall runners)

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2014 Run Of Valor to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  We had a great showing of runners/walkers and the weather was perfect for the event.  The RTS staff enjoyed putting on the race and learned quite a bit to make the event even better next year. 

The official race times are posted and can be found by clicking here.  There are several pictures from the event posted in the photo gallery.  Check them out!  If you are on Facebook, make sure you visit the Run To Succeed page and tag yourself in the photos. 

Congratulations to Jeff Minus and Melissa Lewis who set the Run Of Valor course record for runners and walkers respectivelyCongratulations to Jeff Minus for 1st overall male runner, Marla Rathjen for 1st over all female runner, Michael Gholson for 1st overall male walker, and Melissa Lewis for 1st overall female walker.  Congratulations to everyone else who participated and finished the race.  It is a challenge that all of you should be very proud of.

A big thank you to all of the volunteers who helped with the 2014 Run Of Valor.  Without all of you, the event doesn’t happen.  Most importantly, thank you for supporting the Wounded Warrior Project!  We look forward to seeing all of you at next year’s event.




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Running In The Rain – Run To Succeed

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running_rainWith the copious amounts of rainfall we have been getting across the country this spring, there is a good chance you will be running in the rain at some point.  Inclement weather does not mean you have to run indoors on a treadmill.  And most races are not cancelled because of rain.  So instead of heading indoors, try these tips to make sure you’re prepared for running in the rain:


Wear appropriate clothing/layers

If it’s very cold and rainy, you may need to wear a couple of layers. The most important layer is the one closest to your body.  Make sure it’s a technical fabric such as polypropylene or CoolMax, which wick water and sweat away from your skin.  Your outer layer should be a wind and water resistant jacket or vest.  Don’t wear a waterproof rain slicker because it will trap moisture and heat.  Over-dressing because of rain, will just lead you to perspire more, again defeating the goal.  This is one of the biggest mistakes runners make when heading out for a rainy run.  Wearing more layers does not mean you will stay dry; it may mean that you will be wearing unnecessary heavy and wet clothes.  Be sure and bring an extra set of dry clothing after you have completed the run.  Be sure to wear moisture wicking socks.  It is pretty much inevitable that you will end up stepping in a puddle during your run, and cotton socks will get soggy, squishy, and stretched, leading to blisters.

Wear a brimmed hat

Ever wished glasses had windshield wipers?  Since that is not invented yet, a hat will do.  A hat with a brim can be your best friend during a rainy run.  It will keep the rain off your face, so you can see, even in a downpour.

Wear visible clothing

Safety is always a foremost priority.  Select an outer layer that’s light-colored or has reflective strips, since running in the rain often means poor visibility.  Wearing reflective material or a lighter-colored shirt will increase your visibility.  You may even consider supplementing your clothing with LED lights.  Wearing reflective material or a lighter colored shirt will increase your visibility and keep you safe while you run in the rain.

Protect your electronics

I don’t need to tell you that your electronics are too expensive to risk being damaged.  Keep your cellphone, MP3 players, and GPS units in a ziplock bag or water proof container.  Most touch screens on these units are accessible through plastic.

Prevent chafing

Use products such as Body Glide or Vaseline on parts of your body where you would normally chafe or get blisters such as your feet, inner thighs, and underarms.  Body Glide isn’t just for perspiration.  When you are wet, places likely to cause friction and rub will create chafing.

Accept the fact that you are going to get wet, stay safe, and keep running! #RunToSucceed

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Run Of Valor – Run To Succeed

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RunOfValor2Today, May 5th, is the registration deadline to be guaranteed a Run of Valor commemorative t-shirt.  Registrations will still be accepted up through race day, but t-shirts will be on a first come first serve basis at that point.  The 4 Mile Run of Valor will be held on Saturday May 17th at 9:30 a.m. at the Murphysboro Lake State Park.  Registration is from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

All proceeds from the Run of Valor are to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  The 4 Mile Run of Valor is a Wounded Warrior Project approved event.  Representatives from the Department of Veteran Affairs will also be on site to answer any questions. 

Awards and other giveaways will follow the race.  Register today by following the link on this website or by visiting

Support our nation’s wounded veterans and come experience the challenge!



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2014 Boston Marathon – Run To Succeed

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bostonmarathonCongratulations to all of today’s runners in Boston. You have achieved a great deal and you earned it! 

American Meb Keflezighi finished the race with the fastest time of 2:08:37.

The complete 2014 Boston Marathon results can found by clicking Boston Strong.



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River To River Relay – Run To Succeed

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Our River to River Relay team (Kings of Taper) shortly after finishing the race.

Our River to River Relay team (Kings of Taper) shortly after finishing the race.

Running on a decline with a cool spring breeze blowing against your back and the bright sun overhead splashing its rays down upon your shoulders is about as good a feeling as it gets.  However, knowing that feeling is about to dissipate as you stare down the arduous incline that lies just up ahead is a frightful thought even for the swiftest of runners.  Those were just a couple of the mixed emotions I experienced running the Illinois River To River Relay this past Saturday.

What is the River To River Relay?

The 80 mile course begins in the Mississippi River valley from atop Pine Hills Bluff and finishes in the town of Golconda located along the Ohio River.  The race consists of 250 teams with 8 team members each that are required to run three legs of the race equaling approximately 10 miles per runner.  The Illinois River to River Relay website sums the event up best:  

The Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet at the southern tip of Illinois. Between the two rivers lies a land quite unlike the rest of the state. Rolling hills covered with forests create an environment that is perfect for outdoor sports of all kinds.

Every April over two thousand runners cross this land between the rivers in the River to River Relay. It is not easy to describe the relay to someone who has never participated. It can be exhilarating, exhausting, intimidating, inspiring, and unforgettable, but adjectives alone are insufficient. For participants and organizers, the race is a succession of memorable images that last for a long time.

It is waking at 4 a.m. to get to the start on time and following a convoy of vehicles through the pre-dawn darkness. It is watching mist rise above the forest as the sun rises. It is marveling that two thousand runners and three hundred vehicles can travel eighty miles on back-country roads without someone losing the way.”

Our team

Unfortunately the course can only handle so many teams, therefore, many teams get turned away.  Our initial team was one of these teams, but I was blessed to get an opportunity to join the Kings of Taper who was looking for two more runners.  It was a great group of fellas and some really good runners.  We were able to finish the course with an official time of 10:39:54, which placed us 68th overall out of the 217 teams that finished (23rd out of 82 teams in our division).  Pictured below is the Kings of Taper just after we crossed the finish line as a team.

IMG_0924The team consisted of first time relay runners Axel Larson, Micah Larson, Adam Waller, Doug Cherry, Nick Helmold, Kyle Boerke, and myself and 4th time relay runner Brian Harrison.  The race was definitely the biggest challenge I have ever faced as a runner, but we had a great time and there are no regrets.   

More information on the Illinois River to River Relay can be found by clicking the link.  The 2015 River to River Relay is scheduled for April 25th.  Start training now and hope to see you there!

Tim Jarvis shortly after taking the handoff from Brian Harrison

Tim Jarvis shortly after taking the handoff from Brian Harrison












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Sponsors – Run To Succeed

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Priority SportsRun To Succeed would like to welcome two new sponsors to the team.  Priority Sports and Black Diamond Harley Davidson have joined multiple other businesses who share our same passion for fitness success.  Both companies are excited about the opportunity to support the Wounded Warrior Project through Run To Succeed’s 4 Mile Run Of Valor.

Priority Sports, located in Carbondale, Illinois, offers men’s and women’s athletic shoes at competitive pricing.  Stop by and see the latest in Brooks, Saucony, Asics, New Balance, and other brand name shoes.  Their professional staff will make sure you are fitted to the right shoe before you walk out the door.  Priority Sports also offers free shipping for those of you not living in the area.  You can contact Priority Sports by calling (618) 529-3097.

Black Diamond Harley Davidson, located in Marion, Illinois, is one of the top Harley Davidson motorcycle dealers in the country.  With over 400 new and pre-owned bikes in their massive inventory, Black Diamond HD has the largest selection in the Midwest.  They also have a large inventory of parts, accessories, and apparel making it your one stop destination for anything HD.  If you’re in the area, stop by Black Diamond on every Saturday afternoon from 12 – 3 and take in the free outdoor live entertainment.  Black Diamond HD can be contacted by calling (618) 997-4577 or visit their showroom seven days a week.


Help support RTS’s sponsors.  They are what make this site happen!

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Incline Running – Run To Succeed

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Uphill road

  • Is it important to add incline running to your training regimen?  Very simply put – absolutely.  In the past, I have not been a fan of incline running and primarily prefer to run smooth flat surfaces.  Quite honestly, I did not like downhill running even more.  It was not until I started training for the 80 mile Illinois River to River Relay that I learned the importance of incline running and the beneficial impact it has on training.  So what are the benefits of incline running?

Increase endurance and stamina

Intermittently add hills (or incline on your treadmill) to your training and you will be amazed at how much endurance and stamina you will gain and the short amount of time it will take.  Then, when you are ready to run your regular flat route, you should notice how much easier the run is for you.  Once you have built up enough endurance, you should find it easier to extend your running distance.  Running uphill requires you to breathe harder. Breathing harder will increase your lung capacity so you can get more oxygen to your muscles faster, which will help you to be a more efficient runner.  In addition to strengthened leg muscles from the more arduous effort required for uphill running, your arms will have to move more vigorously.  People naturally coordinate upper and lower body movements during rhythmic tasks.  Stronger and faster upper limb movement results in stronger and faster lower limb movement.  You will be stronger and faster when you run on a flat surface because of training your arms to move with more force when running uphill.

Increase speed

Stamina and strength will naturally increase speed.  Incline running will yield improved strength in your leg muscles.  Although your hamstrings certainly work when you run uphill, your quadriceps and calves work more, and therefore reap more of the strengthening results.  Your calves are responsible for flexing your ankles, and your ankles need to flex even more when running on an incline.  The extra work done by your calves results in more calf strength and overall improved speed.  Downhill running engages your lower abdomen muscles and works your quads, which will also increase speed.  According to Men’s Health “Researchers at the University of Georgia found that uphill running activates 9 percent more muscle each stride compared with exercising at the same relative intensity on level ground.”

Burn calories

Running uphill will burn more calories.  Your body requires more energy to run uphill than it does on a flat surface, therefore, creating higher calorie burn.  When you run uphill, you are working against gravity, propelling forward on an incline and naturally using your body weight as resistance.  Your leg muscles have to work harder to drive your movement so you are using more energy.  The steeper the hill is that you choose to run, the more effort you will exert and the more calories you will burn.

Running has many health benefits that extend beyond the realm of physical fitness. Running helps to prevent disease, improve your health, stimulate weight loss, relieve stress and lift your spirits.  When you incorporate hill work in your runs, whether running outside or using the incline button on a treadmill, you will realize even more benefits.  Uphill running builds stronger leg muscles, burns more calories and improves your overall level of fitness.

From my own personal experience, I know incline running isn’t exactly something you look forward to as a runner, but add it to you training schedule once a week and I firmly believe you will notice a drastic change in your overall fitness level.

#RunToSucceed, #RivertoRiverRelay, #InclineRunning

This article is sponsored by our friends at MBI Worldwide (Midwest Background Investigations).  See them for all your background check and drug screening needs.

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Kids Fun And Fitness Day – Run To Succeed

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Banner smallRun To Succeed will be at the 2nd annual Kids Fun and Fitness Day on June 1st from 1 – 5 p.m. at the SIU Lew Hartzog Track & Field Complex in Carbondale, Illinois.  Make sure you stop by the RTS table and say hello.  We will have some giveaways as well as a few surprises we are working on.  

There will be fun runs for children of every age (100 meter, 400 meter, & 1600 meter relays) and a health fair offering presentations and exhibits on topics including sports injuries, nutrition, exercise training, and safety.  The entire event is free!

Additional information can be found by visiting RRRKIDS.BLOGSPOT.COM and further information will be posted here as we get closer to the event.

See you there and keep running!



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