So you decided to register for a 5K? Great! (If not, you can register for our Road to Wellness 5K Walk/Run here.) Now that you’ve made this decision, it’s time to really think about how you’re going to prepare for the 5K…and what to do when the time comes to really run or walk it!
There are countless possible race strategies floating around. Some runners love to go out hard and hang on. Others like to sit back and kick at the end. We are all different; therefore, we have different strengths that we can use on race day. Here are some quick tips for training for your upcoming 5K and an in-depth strategy for when the big day comes:
Training for a 5K
- Hill training is good practice to improve speed. That added strength in the leg muscles will translate into better efficiency over added mileage and intensity.
- Burpees, box jumps, and high knees — strengthens the muscles you predominately use while you’re running!
- Foam rolling after a hard workout — especially after lifting weights or any strength training!
Strategy for Your 5K
For the first mile: For most runners the most appropriate tactic during the first mile is to follow your overall strategy. If you planned on even pacing be sure you don’t run faster during the first part of the race. If you planned on negative splits, keep your first mile speed at your planned pace. Going out too fast in that first mile can make even pacing, even effort or negative split strategy hard to carry out. The exception to this is with experienced competitive runners and some beginning competitive runner.
- Beginning Runner – Run no faster than planned effort level
- Recreational Runner – Run no faster than planned pace
- Pacer – Planned even pace or up to 3% faster
- Beginning Competitive Runner – Planned even pace or up to 3% faster
- Experienced Competitive Runner – 3% to 6% faster
For the middle mile: The second mile of your 5K is where you should settle into your planned pace or if you are running negative splits, begin to very gradually push your pace. An experienced competitive runner who pushes the pace slightly in the first mile may want to settle into a strong float (strong but relaxed) pace for some active recovery in anticipation of a fast finishing mile.
When the pain and bad patches come, accept them as a good and necessary step to unveiling another level of success. Do NOT think, “Oh, man. Here I go again…” Instead, redirect your focus to something else. Focus on technique: quicken your turnover for the next thirty seconds, drive your arms back, and go through a mental checklist to relax tight hands, arms, and shoulders. By focusing on using your muscles differently, you’ll distract yourself from your doubt, and the moment will pass.
- Beginning Runner – Even Effort
- Recreational Runner – Even Pace or Even Effort
- Pacer – Even Pace
- Beginning Competitive Runner – Even Pace or Gradually Increasing Pace
- Experienced Competitive Runner – Gradually Increasing Pace or Float with Surges
For the last mile: The last mile of the 5K is where most runners either succeed or fail in meeting their running goal. The final mile should be the fastest.
- Beginning Runner- Even effort until the final 200 meters. Then sprint as fast as possible to the finish line.
- Recreational Runner – Even pace until the final 400 meters. Then begin your finishing kick
- Pacer – Steadily increase your pace throughout the final mile. Start your finishing kick with 400 meters to the finish line
- Beginning Competitive Runner – Increasing pace and surging throughout the final mile. Begin your finishing kick with about 400 meters left
- Experienced Competitive Runner – Increasing pace and surging in reaction to your competitors. Begin accelerating strongly with about 800 meters left. Begin your finishing sprint at 300 to 400 meters to the finish line.
Hope these are helpful and happy training! You can do this!
Check out these posts for more great running advice!
Running in the Heat
Building Endurance and Stamina
Take it to the Hills!
The Anywhere Workout