Training For Your First 5k Race
Marathon season is nearly over. We’ll soon be heading into the tricky domain of 5k and 10k races. Here’s how to tackle your first 5k race.
Training for a 5k race is quite different to training for longer races like marathons and half-marathons. Short, sharp and designed with speed in mind, the 5k demands pace as well as endurance. Here’s how to train so you get the most out of that short distance.
Focus On Speed
During marathon training, your focus would naturally be on distance. But because the 5k is such a short race (it’s only 3.1miles), most runners know they can cover the distance. So switch your thoughts from “how long?” to “how fast?” Ditch the long runs in favour of intervals, hill reps and even track sessions. By pushing yourself really hard at top speed, you’ll find that your regular pace for the 5k distance will rise, meaning you’ll be able to run steadily at a faster speed for the same effort.
Of course, you can’t sprint hard throughout every running session. When you’re training for a 5k race, you’ll need to balance hard running training with recovery activities. Rather than choosing to run for all your recovery sessions, turn to cross training to give your body a real chance of repairing. Cycling, swimming and even walking will be good choices.
Develop A 5k Mindset
If you’ve been used to running longer distances at a slower pace, you’ll need to train your mind as well as your body as you focus on the 5k. The beauty (some would say the agony!) of the 5k is that it’s over much sooner, but it’s so much more intense. You’ll find that there’s less opportunity to switch off and zone out during a 5k race. You need to concentrate your mind and muscles on every stride, pumping your arms and lifting your feet in a high-paced, consistent rhythm. Just keep going, not much further, the finish line will be here before you know it. Sprint on through!
Don’t Stop For Fuel
There’s really no need to stop for sports drinks, gels or energy foods during a 5k race. If it’s a very hot day, you might like to take water on board, but if you’re aiming for a fast PB you may prefer not to stop at all. Make sure you’re well fuelled and well hydrated beforehand, eating a small breakfast and perhaps a small snack (banana or energy bar) before the race, as well as plenty of water and electrolytes. During the race, keep going in the knowledge that you can rehydrate after flying through the finish line!
Do you love or loath shorter distance races? We’d love to hear your stories.