I have a 5K personal best-attempt coming up on Saturday. I have been training hard using the Run Less Run Faster plan, and can tell that I’m speedier. I just hope I wake up feeling good the morning of the race and that I don’t blow it over 3.1 miles.
Here are a few 5K racing tips from the experts, as well as some I’ve learned in my time as a runner who races:
BEFORE THE RACE
Eat Right, Eat Light: Don’t eat too much, and don’t eat out one to two nights before the race. “You don’t need to carbo-load for a 5K,” says Chris Carmichael of Carmichael Training Systems in the article “Racing Mistakes to Avoid” on RunnersWorld.com. He advises eating lighter, in fact, by having smaller meals the day before. On race morning, Carmichael suggests a banana and a glass of skim milk. But you know what works best in your stomach before a run, so go with that on race morning. For me, it’s an English muffin with a little peanut butter and honey. And I stay away from dairy the day before because I know it’s harder for me to digest.
Do What You Know: Don’t try any new workouts the week of the race. It seems like a no-brainer, but even a new strength routine two days before could spell a PW (personal worst).
Drink Water Consistently: Try to drink 8 glasses of water a day all week. I, personally, struggle with this one, and what I end up doing is trying to make up for it the night before the race. Then I have to use the portable potties 16 times before the start.
Sleep Well: Try to get a good night’s sleep two nights before the race. The night before your personal best-attempt, you will likely be nervous and that can affect the quality of sleep you get. In the article “Pre-race Nervousness,” the author, triathlete Ron Saetermoe, says that not enough sleep can affect your resting heart rate, and how well your body and mind can repair themselves. So try to relax and get some rest.
Pre-race Warm Up & Pacing: Carmichael, from the Runner’s World article, suggests a 15-minute warm up before a 5K. This is one I will definitely be doing. During my race in December, I did not warm up and my legs and feet were like blocks of ice and it was painful every step of the way. And, Carmichael advises, not doing something else I did in December: starting too fast. Start comfortable, then gain speed.
Mental Game: If the race isn’t going as planned, don’t drop out, says 5K record-holder Molly Huddle in the article “Racing Your Best When You’re Feeling Your Worst,” on the Running Times website. Don’t give up…unless you think you are injured or could get injured. Huddle recommends “…group therapy. Latch onto a pack of runners, even those whom you ordinarily beat.” In the same article, two-time world cross country champion and three-time Olympian Craig Virgin says try something different: “I would suggest to people to shorten your stride a little bit and try to t