Tips for running 5kms
One of the best things about a 5km event is that it’s not a marathon with an official distance of over 42km, officially about 37km more than most people would attempt, even on a good day.
One of the worst things about marathons is that you can’t just decide to run one on impulse; they require a whole bunch of additional impulses – running at least 10, 20, 30kms regularly as you build towards the grand achievement of simply crossing the line no matter what your time.
So yes, one of the best things about 5km events is that they don’t take you to the extremes of mental and, possibly, more importantly, bodily exhaustion.
Another great thing about 5km runs is that almost anyone can do them with some basic training which will also prevent injury. One of the bigger fun runs, the Auckland Round the Bays, attracts upwards of 100,000 entrants and is twice that long. The best run it, the rest walk it; it doesn’t matter as participation is all that counts.
That said, there are some effective ways to get you ahead of the pack. Here are some effective training tips for 5km enthusiasts wanting to not just finish, but pass a few people.
Whether it’s high intensity or low intensity, interval training helps to increase your aerobic and anaerobic threshold. Remember, to many a 5km race can be more like a 5km dash. Yes, it’s 3.1 miles, a long way to most; but for the super fit, running a 5k race is a fast-paced, lactate-inducing semi-sprint. If you want to boost your time, interval training is the way to go.
What is interval training? Basically, it ’s jogging to one lamppost, sprinting to the next on repeat and using the jogging phase for recovery. You can begin the process if you are still building your fitness by mixing walking briskly with jogging. The general idea is to get you gasping for air; the more you do this, the more you increase your lactate threshold and the longer you can run at high speed and go for a personal record on race day.
Mix in some dynamic stretching
As the name suggests, dynamic stretching is the opposite of a static stretch in that it’s a stretch that keeps moving. Dynamic stretching improves your power, performance and endurance and is also a great way to warm up on race day.
Do strength training
If you want to truly excel as a 5k runner, you need more than just exceptional aerobic and anaerobic fitness; your body has to be strong as well, especially your legs. So add a few short, sharp strength workouts to your weekly regime with the emphasis on leg work.
Remember, it’s all about running faster for longer. What’s going to get you to the finish line? Lean muscle as much as anything.
Use a running coach or personal trainer
5k training can be a lonely business and it’s hard to stick to your training plans and keep motivation high. Not only will a running coach or personal trainer ensure you train effectively, but they’ll also push you harder than you can push yourself, increase your pre-race effort level and get you to the event in the best possible shape.
Keep track and make yourself accountable
Use apps such as Nike Running or RunKeeper to track and record your runs. Tools such as this are great for pushing you along to beat your PB and manage your pace. Ensure that you add your run into your calendar and stick to the plan so that you can improve your time and distance each week. Over time your 5km distance will work from 60, 45, 30 and to hopefully under 20 minutes.
Best of all, why not become that personal trainer yourself? Not only will you learn the skills required to compete at the highest level, but you’d also be paid to teach others how to get there as well.