Monday, March 21, 2016

Racing the 5k

For me, there's nothing like a race to get my training going. I need something to work toward, something to train for. Just going on runs is fine, but if I really want to get myself to run farther, harder, and more often, signing up for a race makes it happen.

2012 Med City 5k

If you're looking for a race, there can be a lot to consider. First off, you need to pick a distance. There's no wrong answer here, but I'd recommend considering how long you have to train, your running history, and what you're looking to accomplish.

A 5k is a good place to start for a new runner. Depending on what kind of shape you're in, you could run one tomorrow. If, however, you've been spending most of your time the past few months watching Netflix on the couch, you should probably take at least two months to train. If you haven't been running but are in reasonably good shape from other activities, four to six weeks is probably enough time to complete a 5k.

Training for a 5k as an experienced runner is a whole different animal. In the past few years, the marathon has been king as far as racing. Almost every experienced runner I know who's not a professional sets their sights on a marathon, but a 5k can be just as challenging, albeit in a different way.

Marathon training involves lots of miles, and not as much intensity. However, 5k training means a decent amount of mileage and quite a bit more intensity. Be ready for lots of challenging workouts that push you right to the limit.

Whether you're looking to run your first 5k or to race one, a 5k can be a very rewarding experience. New runners can feel a great sense of accomplishment completing a first race. Not everyone can run or even run/walk a 5k, so completing a race is something to be proud of--especially if you started from scratch.

For experienced runners, there's nothing like running fast.While racing a marathon is difficult, you'll find a whole different kind of hurt when racing a 5k--when you do it right, your lungs will be burning, your legs uncomfortable, and you'll have the feeling of being right on the edge the entire race.

I love the 5k. There are plenty of experienced runners now who don't race this distance anymore for two reasons: First, it's not a marathon. It seems most experienced runners now shoot for the marathon as their goal distance, whether that distance is their strength or not. Second, many would prefer to spend a longer time in a medium amount of discomfort to a shorter time in a more intense discomfort.

So, whether you're looking to set a new personal best time or to run your first race, the 5k might be a good place to start.

Run well.

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