Ask the Coach: Bunion surgery and 5k training

Q: I had surgery on my right foot for a bunion April 2005. The bone was shaved and a pin installed. I really want to run in a 5k in Newport Beach in February. I have good shoes and have been reading some information on how to get started running. Do you have any advice? It's a bit painful, but I really want to stick with it. I'll be joining a gym again, starting the treadmill and strength training. I have two months, do you think that's enough time?

A: The first piece of advice is to listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between pain and discomfort. If you're experiencing discomfort in your foot while working out, some of that is normal in the healing process. If you're experiencing pain that forces you to modify your stride or the pain lasts beyond the workout, you need to check with your doctor to be sure you're not doing damage to your foot.

Assuming you get the go-ahead from your physician and you're healthy, two months is plenty of time to prepare for a 5k. Below is a very basic plan to prepare you for a 5k. There are plenty of variations, but this is a good start.

Before beginning the plan, you should be capable of walking for 20 minutes at a steady pace without foot pain. Your goal for the event needs to be successful completion, even if that means walking some of the event. Once you have successfully completed one event, and had fun doing so, you can move toward making improvements from there. Have fun at the event and let us know how it goes.

5k Run or Run/Walk Training Plan

Week Tuesday Thursday Saturday

1 (Run 1 minute, Walk 1 minute) x 5, then walk for 20 minutes. (Run 1 minute, Walk 1 minute) x 7, then walk for 16 minutes. (Run 1 minute, Walk 1 minute) x 10, then walk for 10 minutes.
2 (Run 2 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 5, then walk for 15 minutes. (Run 2 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 7, then walk for 9 minutes. (Run 2 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 10
3 (Run 3 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 4, then walk for 14 minutes. (Run 4 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 4, then walk for 10 minutes. (Run 5 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 4, then walk for 6 minutes.
4 (Run 5 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 5 (Run 6 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 4-5 (Run 7 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x4
5 (Run 8 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 3, then finish with a 3-minute run (Run 9 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 3 (Run 9 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 4
6 (Run 9 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 2 -- Yes, only twice, you're resting for the race! (Run 9 minutes, Walk 1 minute) x 1 -- Just a short run or take today off. 5k Race -- Wahoo! Have great fun at your race. You have the fitness to (Run 9 minutes, Walk 1) x repeat to the end or you can run the entire event.

Notes: On a scale of "easy, moderate, hard" all of the workouts should be done at an easy to moderate pace. Save your personal course records for another time. The run portions are done at moderate intensity and walk at an easy intensity until you feel recovered. If you chose to walk the entire plan, that works great too. Moderate walking can be substituted for "run" in the plan along with walking at an easy pace where the plan notes to "walk".

Do you have a specific training or sport related question? Have world-renowned coach Gale Bernhardt answer it! Send your questions to askthecoach@active.com.

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Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic Coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

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