Congrats on the program, Fracesca. I hope you find it as an enjoyable and beneficial as I do, and I hope you stick with it.
I’ll try to give you the best advice I can.
Do the 5k and have fun. Don’t look at it as a race, but as a training run, and don’t worry about your time.
As you start running, don’t overtrain and hurt yourself. Go slow. Remember that your cardiovascular system will improve faster than your muscles. You won’t feel as winded when you’re running, and you’ll feel like you can run far, but you’ll pay for it the next day with soreness or maybe even hurt yourself. So take it slow.
As for the soreness in your shins. It may be nothing. It may be what I just described above. It may be shinsplints. Could be a lot of things.
My best advice, for this and your form would be to consult an expert. As you’re getting into running, I think it is crucial that you do so. It will mean a lot for your satisfaction, performance, and you’ll avoid a lot of mishaps, problems and injuries.
What you should do is look in the yellow pages or the internet for a good running store near you.
Go there, and ask for help. Bring the shoes that you run in. If they know what they are doing, they will put you on a treadmill and watch you run. They will look at the wear on the shoes, and maybe even your smelly feet.
They will give you suggestions on how to fix your form. They will also be able to tell how you are running. People run differently. You may be running slightly pigeon-toed. You may be over or under pronating (this tells you where you are landing and taking off on your foot as you roll through your stride.) You may have flat feet, or high arches.
Chances are they are going to show you a shoe. Chances are it won’t be cheap (you want a training shoe, btw.) These people will almost surely know what they are doing. To have a running store is an act of love, not profit most of the time.
You would be well-advised to buy they shoe they offer you.
Running is not an expensive thing to do. Do not skimp on the shoes. You don’t mangled feet or injuries (I lost a bunch of toenails due to buying a cheap shoe before a marathon, which was really stupid of me.)
That shoe should last you 400-500 miles, so it will be a good investment. Don’t use it for anything else but running.
Nike Air Aces work good for me at about 60 bucks a pair. That’s about as cheap as you can go. Look to be equipped with good shoes for 100 bucks or less, but get quality.
Train as you feel comfortable for the 5k. Don’t sweat it. Don’t run for a day before the race. Two days before the race do only a light easy run.
Assess yourself before the race. Will you be able to comfortable run the full distance or will you need to do some walking?
Let’s say you figure that you’ll need to walk two of the five kilometers.
All running sources and runners (that are smart) agree that the best way to run a race, have fun and get the best possible time is to plan on running a reverse.
What that means is that the second half of the race should be faster than the first. Most people go roaring out of the starting line in the fun and excitement and desire of it, and run out of gas and have a miserable time limping to the finish.
Start at the back (it’s more fun to pass people than be passed,) and start slow and warm up. Plan on walking 60% of what you figure you will need to walk in the first half of the race. That way, at the halfway mark you will feel strong, pretty fresh, and you will be nicely warmed up. You will be in a good position to judge how hard you should push it. Walk when you need to.
If you are planning on walking at all, it’s a good idea to walk up hills rather than run whether you feel you need to, or not. Even if you run, you will probably slow down quite a bit on a hill, and you will expend a lot of energy. Walking up the will won’t slow you down that much, and it won’t deplete your reserves.
Don’t be thirsty before the race, but don’t drink too much water. You don’t want it sloshing around while you run, and you sure don’t want to have to pee.
Have fun. Talk to people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either here or at the race. There is nothing a runner likes more than to talk about running and give advice.