Tips on Running a 5k
Here are some great tips on running a 5k, from my top training tips to some racing tips. This summer marked a return to racing for me. I am running a 5k and a half marathon. It wasn’t since high school and college that I was in a race setting, so this time I really focused on the process of training and preparing to race.
So you know the end result, I ran the 5k in 18:25 and won the race in my local town. You can scroll down to see my full race report.
Top Five Training Tips for a 5k.
1. Start a training program at least two months in advance of your race date.
2. Do a running workout at least four times a week. This will make you have to run on back to back days at least once during the week.
3. After about three or four weeks of consistent running in your training program, set a goal for your finish time. My goal was to run at 6:00 per mile which is 18:45. I achieved my goal!
4. Make sure to mix in some faster running workouts into your training program. Just doing all long and slow distance runs will be good for getting in shape, but you won’t be able to run much faster than your jogging pace come race day.
5. Follow a specific training program such as the Start Walking, Get Running, Lose Weight Plan if you are a beginner, or use the 100 Day Marathon Plan (it is great for 5k training too – This is the plan I used).
When Race Day comes, there are some things you need to do to make sure you are successful. Here are my top five tips on running a 5k race.
1. Be in good shape on race day. One thing that you have to do is train. There is no way you can fake your way through a 5k. If you have only run one mile in the past month, and think you are going to run a fast time in a 5k, you are in for a world of hurt.
2. Determine your pace based on your goal time. My goal time was 18:45, which worked out to be six minutes per mile. The first mile of the race, I ran in about 5:50, which is a little fast, but close to the pace I wanted to be at. I was able to hold onto this slightly faster than goal pace.
3. Don’t start out too fast. If I were to run the first mile in 5:30, I probably would have hit the wall during the third mile and ran very poorly. Make sure you don’t start the race too fast. That is simply a recipe for disaster.
4. Push the pace in the second and third mile. With all the adrenaline flowing and excitement of the big race, the first mile will probably feel relatively easy. This won’t be the case for the second and third mile. You will have to consciously push yourself to stay on your goal pace. It will be hard, but if you have done the training, you will be used to running when you are feeling some fatigue.
5. Get some fans on the course. My family was there to cheer me on for the 5k race, and I can’t tell you how good it felt when they were yelling my name at the two mile mark. It really gave me a boost of energy and made the race much more fun to run.
Those are my top tips for running a 5k. Here is a full race report for my local 5k. This was the 28th annual running of the Kissel 5k in Hartford, Wisconsin.
I left my house at about 7:45 to do my warm up run to the starting line. It was about 80 degrees which wasn’t too hot or humid for the race. There was a slight breeze and a few puffy cumulus clouds floated in the sky.
When I arrived to the race sight, I picked up my number, visited the bathroom and then stretched out. There was probably 200 people in the race. My race number was 122, so there were at least that many people.
The course was pretty simple. The mighty Rubicon River, it’s actually a tiny creek, runs through the center of town. The course basically follows the river for a mile, then comes a 90 turn up into some gently rolling hills for the second mile. The third mile had mostly rolling downhills which lead back to the start line for the big finish.
At 8:30 it was race time. I was trying to scope out who would be my competition. It looked like there were some local high school boys that were in decent shape. Also a few guys my age that looked the runner type. (Shorter shorts, and a racing singlet).
The race started without any hitches, and I found myself right by the leaders. It has been years since my last race, so I was a bit surprised to be that close to the lead. I felt relaxed enough as I ran, but I was still nervous about being near the lead. After about 600 meters, the two runners in front of me significantly slowed down. I actually ran on the leader’s shoulder for about ten meters, but he wasn’t holding pace.
My wife was cheering me on at this point in the race, and I then took the lead. She yelled, “Relax Dave!,” but I felt pretty relaxed. The pace simply was to slow for me not to lead. I ran the rest of the first mile in the lead, and to my surprise, no one was next to me. At the mile, my watch said 5:51. I expected to be out a little faster, but since no one was pushing me, I was happy with this mile split.
Mile two had a lot of gradual uphills. I worked up these stretches very strong and steady. There were a few points where I felt quite tired, but I kept reminding myself, “This is a race Dave. You are supposed to feel tired. Stay smooth and fast.” I was around 12:00 for the two mile mark, which I was pleased with. I knew this mile would be slower because of the uphills, but I was able to run relatively fast all alone.
Right after the two mile mark, my wife and three kids were there cheering me on. My wife actually made them personal T-Shirts for the race. They read “Go Dad Go,” and “Run Dad Run.” They were all shouting and hollering these phrases as I ran by. I laughed a bit when my four year old daughter shouted in her squeaky voice, “You’re the man Dad!”
The last mile had a lot of gradual downhills, and I pretty much sprinted down these sections. I am just over six feet tall, so I really let my longer legs go on these sections and eat up some ground easily. Before I really knew it, I approached the finish stretch. I really didn’t pick it up that much because there was no one near me. I crossed the finish line at 18:25 winning my first race since high school over 15 years ago. I’m not going to lie. It felt really good even if it wasn’t a hard fought win. Maybe that could be you. Follow a great training program to get yourself ready to go.
- Written by David Tiefenthaler
- Advanced 5K Training Schedule
- 5K in Miles
- Running Workouts
- 100 Day Marathon Plan Review
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