Marathon runners on road, low section

John Foxx

You may have never mastered the metric system in school, but you can make 2011 the year you conquer the kilometers—five of them, anyway. Even if the only sprinting you’ve done lately is chasing your toddler through the grocery store, you can finish a 5K with some training tips from the pros.

Matt Brier, triathlete and certified personal trainer, Wellbridge

> Before you hit the road running, check with your physician. That should always be your first step if you’re starting any new exercise program.

> For the absolute novice runner, start with a two-mile route. Try to run at a comfortable pace—not a sprint—and sustain that for as long as possible. If you can’t finish, just walk for two minutes and then run for two minutes, until you complete the route. As you improve, cut down the walking breaks until you’ve mastered the loop. Then do the same thing with a three-mile route.

> Weight training helps to develop good strength and balance, primarily in your quadriceps. You can get anterior knee pain if the quads don’t have balanced strength.

> On your first run, just concentrate on finishing, not your speed. That’s your starting point. If you want to get faster, then begin work on interval training.

Jayda Armstrong, certified personal trainer, Nutriformance

> Go to a specialty running store and be professionally fitted for good running shoes.

> Be consistent with your training! Not necessarily every day, but if you have a 12-week program, for example, follow it all the way through. Don’t follow it for awhile, drop out, and then try to come back at the same pace.

> Listen to your body and learn how to monitor your heart rate. Overtraining is very common for beginners. You can go online to find the formula to determine your target age-predicted heart rate.

> On race day, don’t wear anything brand new! If you wear new shoes, you’ll probably blister. New clothes, you’re probably going to chafe. Wear something you’ve broken in during training.

Keely Murphy, certified personal trainer, SWEAT/Pound 4 Pound

> Do some cross training in addition to running. Biking, elliptical, swimming—anything that’s non-impact to mix it up during the week. Yoga is great, too. It improves balance, strength, confidence and focus.

> Bi-lateral balance and flexibility training help prevent injuries and strengthen your core stabilizers, keeping your ankles, knees and hips happy!

> Stay motivated during your run by setting small goals, especially on the treadmill, like I’ll do one more quarter-mile before the timer runs down to five minutes.

> Day of the race—don’t take it too seriously. You just want to finish! Invite friends and family to cheer you on.