Try these before your next 5K.
I’m sharing some of my tried and true 5K training & racing tips that should help you feel more prepared and confident on race day. Give these a try and let me know what you think.
#1. Work through the process.
Start with what you can do easily and gradually add little challenges one by one. I recommends alternating adding more time on your feet with running at a faster pace. For example, if you can run comfortably for 10 minutes, add 1-5 minutes to your runs each week for a month. Once you can run for 20-30 minutes comfortably, try spending another month running the same time on your feet and gently pushing the pace for part of it. You can start by sprinkling in some faster 1-3 minute intervals, then 4-6 minute intervals. The next month go back to to adding more time on feet. If a month is too long, alternate week by week. No matter where you are in your training process, the goal should be to feel good running at least 80% of the time and make it more challenging no more than 20% of the time.
#2. Aim for progress, not perfection.
Practice the full 5K distance (3.1 miles) a few times before hitting the starting line of a 5K race. You can learn a lot just by doing it once, but you’ll see real progress if you use the Introduce, Improve, Progress (IIP) strategy. Run the goal distance twice before you enter a 5K race. The first time is your introduction to the distance, the second time is your opportunity to make some adjustments, and the third time is your chance to really go for it. I think you’ll be amazed at how much growth you make between the first try and the third. If you are a more experienced 5K runner you can use the same IIP strategy to practice running your goal 5K pace before executing it in a race. Furthermore, if you know what the race course is like, you can find a similar route to practice on. If you are running a hilly race find a hilly route; if you are running a trail race, hit the trails; if you are racing on a track, go to a track; and if you are trying to break the 5k treadmill world record, practice on a treadmill. The more specific you can be the better.
#3. Warm up!!
It’s easy to overlook this part of racing but it can help you run more comfortably and probably faster. The type of warm-up you do is very specific to your body and what helps you feel ready to run. You may be thinking that you want to conserve energy before the race. In that case, a less active pre-race warm-up can consist of foam rolling, resistance band walks, or some gentle dynamic stretches. A more vigorous warm-up can include easy running, form drills and strides. Make sure to practice your warm-up routine before race day so you are comfortable with it.