Here’s how to make your next five kilometre race better than your first. – By Jeff Galloway
Runners rightfully celebrate the milestone of finishing their first race, but lining up to do it again is just as important. If your first 5K was a success, you may feel more motivated than ever to train so you can enjoy the race-day experience again and again (and accumulate a collection of race T’s, medals, and other swag). But if your debut didn’t go as you hoped, here’s the upside: You can learn more from a crummy run than a great one. Either way, choose one of these goals to make your second 5K a race to remember.
Avoid a Slowdown
If your first race involved a too-fast start, you probably crashed at the end, which can be demoralising. To decrease the likelihood a flameout will happen again, try taking more frequent walk breaks from the get-go. This will keep your overall pace slower and preserve your leg muscles so you can be the passer (instead of the passee) in the final kilometre of the race.
Run It All
Many racers (especially newbies) finish just as fast or faster while using a run-walk strategy. Even so, the idea of running a 5K without any walk breaks may appeal to you. To work up to that, once a week, devote a workout to non-stop running. Slow your pace and gradually increase the distance by adding an additional half kilometre to kilometre each week, hitting your longest non-stop run of five kilometres one week before your race.
If you felt like a million bucks at the end of your first 5K, you may be interested in trying to push a little harder next time. To race faster, you must run faster in training. Try this: Once a week, run a series of 500 metres, walking two to three minutes between each. The first week, run four repeats at the pace you held in your first 5K. Each week, add two repeats and do them all a few seconds faster than the previous week’s. Finish a week before your goal race with 10 to 12, 500 metre repeats.
Bring a Friend
Your first race can be nerve-wracking, but now you know what happens on race day – and that you can finish. You’ll almost certainly enjoy your second one more, but to guarantee it, try signing up with a friend. You can chat, take walk breaks together, and cross the line as a team. If your friend has not run a 5K before, you can mentor him or her to a good experience.
The Excuse: My first 5K went so poorly that I’m not sure I ever want to run another.
Beat It: While you don’t have to race, it can be great fun if you do it right. So sign up for another – don’t wait! – and run it differently: Start more slowly, and take walk breaks early and often. If you begin to huff and puff, take a 30-second walk break. You are likely to finish strong, pass people, and look forward to 5K number three.