Running this year's ROC 5k? Here's some top tips from a personal trainer and marathon veteran.

1. Start slowly.

You’ve signed up to your first 5K and you’re excited to getting going! But before you do, consider the importance of giving your body and mind time to adapt. If it’s been a long time since you’ve run, or you haven’t run a 5K before, you should give yourself at least 8 weeks of training to allow your heart, lungs and muscles to grow stronger. Remember you don’t have to run or even walk 5k on the first day!

2. Consult your GP if you need to.

If you have a health condition or a joint/bone problem that you think may be made worse by exercise its best to consult your GP before starting. Walking tends to be one of the safest forms of exercise and may even improve your health condition, but it’s worth running it past a medical professional first.

3. Always start with a gradual warm-up.

A warm-up allows time for your heart and muscles to adjust to the exercise to come. It can be as simple as a brisk 10-minute walk that includes mobility exercises like rolling the shoulders, curling the legs behind and bringing the knees up high in front. The effort level should feel light (as if you could carry on for hours!) but you should start to feel slightly warmer. It’s not necessary to stretch during this phase but if you do decide to, ensure your muscles are warm before you start.

Similarly, ensure you cool down gradually with a walk interspersed with stretches. Allow your heart rate and breathing to come back to the pre-exercise level.

4. Follow a training programme.

If you want to follow a training programme I would recommend the couch to 5K from the NHS.

It will guide you through a warm-up and take you through a programme that alternates between walking and running until you reach 5K.

If you prefer to go it alone, then try alternating between 1 minute running and 90 seconds walking over a 20 minute period. As you get fitter and stronger try decreasing the time you spend walking and increasing the time you spend running.

5. Start at a moderate intensity.

When you start out running make sure you do so at a moderate intensity. A lot of people mistakenly start out too fast, find it uncomfortable and never try running again! You can check you are running at a moderate intensity with the talk test. Can you hold a conversation while you are running? If you are struggling for breathe and can only string one or two words together you need to slow down until you can talk comfortably.

6. Aim to train 3 times across the week.

Avoid training on consecutive days and instead give your body the time it needs to rest and become stronger. It is only during rest that the muscles grow. You will be amazed at how quickly you improve over the weeks.

7. Aim to eat a well-balance diet.

Allow at least an hour for food to digest before you go for a run and if you haven’t eaten anything for 3 hours prior to running it may be worth having a small snack, such as a banana. Ensure you eat a small carbohydrate-rich snack (again, a banana is a good choice) within 60 minutes of finishing your run, as this will replenish your energy stores for the next session.

Aim to drink 2-3L of water throughout the day to stay hydrate and take a small bottle of water with you to sip as you run.

Carol Clark has completed 12 marathon with her best time being 3:38:52 at London in 2015. As well as being part of the United Response Fundraising Team she runs a personal training business.