Blue Sky Endurance owner Catherine Hollister can help you get ready for your first run or triathlon | Photo by Rūta Smith

Catherine Hollister has been running in some form since she was 18, but discovered a love for triathlons later in life. Now 52, she’s the owner of Blue Sky Endurance in Mount Pleasant.

“I had run the Boston Marathon, and I was looking for the next hard thing, and I thought a triathlon would be a challenge,” she said. “So I started training for my first triathlon in my early 30s, and I just got hooked.” 

After participating in several triathlons since, Hollister realized Charleston did not have a one-stop store where triathletes could buy all their gear. She opened Blue Sky Endurance in 2015, selling running, biking and swimming equipment and offering training programs — including a 12-week Bridge Run program designed for runners of all experience levels. Though the program is a group activity, it’s very much individualized based on peoples’ experiences and running challenges.

Her biggest advice to first-time 5K runners? Identify your barriers and find a solid solution to overcome them. “I think you have to be really honest with yourself,” said Hollister. “Usually people know why they haven’t trained for a 5K before, whether it’s because they don’t have enough time or don’t have the discipline to get out the door. Ask yourself why you don’t like running, then find the solution to help you get there.”

Blue Sky Endurance’s Bridge Run program implements a schedule with two days of speed running and one longer, endurance-focused run each week in addition to personalized “homework” for training days.

Hollister emphasizes a training program for a 5K is inherently unique to each person, but offers a sample training guide and tips to help beginners get a sense of the routine, though she encourages new runners to seek out coaches and groups to individualize their program and help with motivation.

MORE: Official Bridge Run training program: bridgerun.com/training

Sample 5K Training Program
Stage 1: Weeks 1-4

Focus on building up your endurance and strengthening specific muscles (core, knees, hamstrings, etc.) to prepare for quicker speed runs.

Run at least three times per week with rest days or cross training in between.

Hollister says at least one rest day per week is required. She recommends cross-training on non-running days to build muscles in other areas of the body that will help with running. Cross training can include any other physical activity from cycling to weight training.

Example

Day 1, Week 1
Start by running for 5 minutes. Walk for 1 minute. Repeat three times. 

Then, add 1 minute to your running time on each run day but continue to walk for 1 minute following your run. Repeat three times. Once you reach 10 minute runs, replace three repetitions with two.

Stage 2: Weeks 5-10

As you build stamina and become more accustomed to regularly running with walking intervals, incorporate longer run days.

Example

Week 5 
Day 1: run 20 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 5 minutes
Day 2: Rest/cross-train
Day 3: Run 15 minutes, walk 1 minute. Run hard for 2 minutes, walk for 2 minutes. Repeat three times.
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Run 25 minutes
Day 6: Rest/cross-train
Day 7: Rest

Stage 3: Weeks 11-12

In the final weeks leading up to a race, runners should begin re-introducing quick repetition runs again and taper back distance while still practicing good running form.

Doing a short, easy run the day before a race is recommended to keep muscles loose yet prepared for run day. 

Training for a 5K is dependent on the individual’s strength, endurance and experience, which is why training with a pro or a running group can help runners to identify individual areas of improvement and strengthen overall form and stamina prior to the race itself.