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How 5K Training Made Me Be a Better Prepper

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When I sat down last December to write down my goals for the year, I knew one of them had to be getting in better shape. Have you been there? Has this ever been your goal?

Many preppers know they need to be in good shape to survive hard times. I decided 2016 would be the year I would try to become a runner. There is an annual 5K/10K/half/full marathon race near us every fall, so I registered for the 5K in January and started on the path to better health.

I also learned several lessons along the way that taught me how to be a better prepper.

image: women in 5k wearing number holding both hands in in V for victory, learning how 5K training can help you be a better prepper

Why I Chose to Run

Part of my motivation is the extra baby weight I carry from having children. I’ve spent many years just focusing on the number on the scale and have realized that it wasn’t a great motivator. My weight would fluctuate, and I would feel discouraged rather quickly. Also, I wasn’t getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis, and that made it hard to work out consistently.

So, my goal changed from losing weight to increasing activity. Running is an activity that should be done consistently and constantly. It requires a commitment of a few days every week to see improvement. I started focusing on my health and knew that the weight would eventually come off.

Choosing how to train

The first thing I had to do after registering for the 5K was to decide how I wanted to train. There are many programs out there that work for a lot of people (Pinterest is full of them). Couch to 5K is a very popular training plan. However, I didn’t think that would work well for me. I wanted to train to become a runner, not just run one race.

Instead, I decided to just start running and add to my time bit by bit. I planned for 30 minutes on the treadmill and I started with jogging for 3 minutes and walking the rest of the time.

Then, when that got easier, I tried jogging for 5 minutes, but not less than 3. Then for 7 minutes. At about that point, I realized I was jogging for half a mile. That was then my baseline and I added distance and increased speed.

I was careful to only increase my time, distance, or speed in small increments. I would stay at the same rate for at least a week before moving on to the next increment. There were times due to lack of sleep or sickness that I stayed at the same rate for 3-4 weeks, but I never went lower than my most recently established baseline. I did this to not get discouraged and also to avoid injury. I wanted to do my best to ensure I would reach my goal.

Did I reach my goal?

And I did! In September, after training for eight solid months, I ran a full 5K. There was a hill I wasn’t expecting, but I ran up the whole thing. I did have to walk for 30 seconds a few times, but I think the hill canceled out those walking times.

I felt so good finishing the race.

Throughout my training, I realized there were several lessons I learned along the way that also apply to being a good prepper.

How 5K Training Taught Me to Be a Better Prepper

Many of our life experiences have more broad applicability than we might think. When we give it some thought, though, we realize we can generalize the principles we learn.

Know Your ‘Why’

I chose to train in a different way than most people do for 5Ks, but that’s because I realized I had different goals than most people who want to run a 5K. I also knew I couldn’t focus on the number on the scale anymore or I would lose motivation very quickly.

How this helps you be a better prepper

Every situation preppers face and prepare for is different and unique. One family’s plan for a hurricane may be different from another family’s. Yet that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.

Each person and family has to decide what is best for them. To do that evaluate the type of threat using a threat analysis like this one, the resources on hand, and what the family can handle financially and otherwise.

Equipment matters

When I first started running, I only had loose workout pants, old tennis shoes, and sports bras meant for walking. I quickly realized that I needed the right equipment if I wanted to succeed. Blisters and backaches were not going to help me achieve my goal.

I spent the most money on a good pair of shoes at a store that looks at your feet and gait – it was worth every penny! I found good deals on workout clothes and supportive sports bras. Some runners swear that something like a FitBit that tracks their calories and steps is invaluable, while others use a simple pedometer. The right clothing made running more enjoyable, which encouraged me to continue.

How this helps you be a better prepper

With prepping it’s key to prepare for situations with the right equipment, too.

For instance, if you have a spare pair of shoes under your bed, it might seem like you’re prepared for any situation where you might need an extra pair of shoes. However, if those shoes gave you blisters the last time you wore them, then they won’t be of much help when you need them most. You’re just going to get blisters if you have to use them in an emergency.

In fact, relying on ill-suited equipment or outdated supplies can often make matters worse in an emergency. This is because such equipment might not function as intended, or worse, it could even pose a danger to you and those around you.

It can be an investment to have the proper equipment that’s in good working order, but it will make surviving easier.

Friends make it easier

Friends can make things easier in many different ways. Having supportive and caring friends can provide emotional support and encouragement during challenging times, which can help make difficult tasks feel more manageable. I had a support group through Facebook that helped encourage me as I was training. We offered each other encouragement, tips, and motivation.

Similarly, I tried running a practice 5K by myself early in the summer, and I found myself running too fast and then stopping to walk too much. When I ran the 5K in September, a friend ran with me and kept me at the right pace, and encouraged me to keep running when I wanted to stop.

How this helps you be a better prepper

Preparing for any situation, especially when it involves emergencies or unexpected events, can be daunting and overwhelming. However, having friends who share the same interest and enthusiasm for prepping can make the process more manageable and encouraging.

When you have friends who are also interested in prepping, you can share ideas and tips, learn from each other’s experiences, and provide mutual support and encouragement. There’s also the possibility that you can also divide the work among yourselves and work together as a team to prepare for any potential scenarios.

I have two friends that I talk with often and we share tips and things we’re noticing in the world to help us all be better prepared. It’s nice to not feel alone when you’re facing a big task.

Take this a step further with a community of like-minded individuals to help you stay motivated and accountable. The Survival Mom Sisterhood brings together women from around the world to provide personal attention, friendship, and training. It’s a community, an experience, and a source of inspiration and training. You can join the Survival Mom Sisterhood membership waitlist here.

Baby Steps Accomplish Goals

As I explained, I took my time training for the 5K. I knew I wouldn’t be going from walking 30 minutes three times a week to running a 12-minute mile in a few weeks. I made small goals that I could attain and then set another goal.

Having small accomplishments along the way made me feel good and kept me motivated. Running is something that must be constantly done to maintain or improve. There is always something to do!

How this helps you be a better prepper

Setting small goals can be an effective way to approach any task, including prepping. When it comes to prepping, the goal is usually to prepare for emergencies or unexpected situations. However, the scope of prepping can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel discouraged or uncertain about where to start.

You may not have a ton of skills and three months of food storage in a matter of weeks. It takes time, but you can set small goals of learning a skill or getting a single week’s worth of food and then feel good about meeting that goal. Then you set the next goal and keep going.

For example, if you’re new to prepping, you might start by setting a goal of learning a new skill, such as basic first aid or fire-starting. Once you’ve achieved that goal, you can feel good about your progress and set the next goal, such as gathering a week’s worth of food.

Each time you achieve a small goal, you can feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This can keep you motivated and moving forward. As you continue to set and achieve small goals, you’ll gradually build up your prepping skills and resources, and be better prepared for emergencies and unexpected events.

It’s a process

It’s important to remember that prepping is not a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process that requires ongoing effort and attention. By setting small goals and consistently working towards them, you can stay engaged in the process and make continual progress. After a time, you’ll look back and see that you’ve accomplished a lot.

In the end, determination makes a difference

Being a successful runner is more than just a physical endeavor. It is also a mental and even spiritual game. I did a lot of talking to myself, doing mind tricks to run farther, and I did a lot of praying. I really, really wanted to accomplish this goal. That sense of determination kept me going on the days I felt like skipping the workout.

How this helps you be a better prepper

When you are deeply motivated to learn a new skill, you will find the determination to make sure it happens. And you’ll likely experience a sense of purpose and enthusiasm that can propel you forward. You will be more willing to make sacrifices and prioritize your time and resources to achieve your goal. You may also be more willing to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them as you progress.

For example, if you want to become a HAM radio operator, your desire will ensure you find the time to study and pass the test for your license. Saving money to buy extra food and equipment can also require a sense of determination. The stronger the desire, the more determination you’ll have.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to train for a 5K in order to learn how to be a better prepper. These are principles that can be learned in many other circumstances.

Yet, in my case, I realized how important it is to customize my prepping, get encouragement from others, invest in the right equipment, and, above all, never quit.

How have life experiences helped you to be a better prepper?

Originally published April 13, 2017; updated and revised by Team Survival Mom.

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Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Visit her at

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