Racing Too Many 5ks and Progression (Part 2)

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about racing too many 5ks.  I enjoy racing, but I know it’s too many for some people. Plus there are plenty of 5ks each weekend now but during the winter months, the amount of races dwindle.  I don’t know what my social life will become!

I thought I would continue the update because it’s a reminder to me of how far I’ve come since beginning my 5k Plan. As I continue to improve, I continue to reflect which is equally as important.  Reflecting allows me to see that although my progress is not linear, I am still progressing.

me 5k

After my somewhat downer marathon at Phoenix and two years of no progression (actually more like regression…), I decided my training needed to change.  When I was training for both marathons, running shorter distance was not what I wanted to do.  Similarly, running longer distances like a marathon is not what I want to do right now.

Before I train for another full marathon (which to be honest, I have no idea or inclination of when that will be), I want to PR in everything shorter.

I want to get back to my times I was running when I did run the 3:17 New York. Both 3:17 and 3:15 are respectable marathon times, however, they don’t align with a 1:23.23 half marathon or 18:35 5k PR. So my goal is to continue training shorter until I am back to my 5k fitness and more importantly until I WANT to run a marathon…

Belmar 1

Here is a look back at my progression by monthly 5k PRs:

(All of my race recaps can be found here)

May: 20:15
June: 19:40
July: 19:15
Aug: 19:34
Sept: 20:07 (But a solid 10k Performance of 40:55 and 13.1 of 1:31.48_)
Oct: 18:56

Image from Bob Brock
Image from Bob Brock

Half Marathon Progression:
Sep 7: 1:31:48
Oct 17: 1:28.18
Oct 31: 1:25.45

RnR Virginia Beach

As you can see, my progression over the last five months has not been linear.

What happened in most of July, August and September?

My fastest 5k was sent July 4th at the Firecracker 5k.  From July 5-October 4, I didn’t have any 5ks that matched that race.  For a while, I was wondering if the race was a fluke.  I was putting in speed work as well as mileage but I was plateaued.  Was it the heat?  Was it the fact that I raced other distances and succeeded (The Belmar Chase 5 miler, RnR Half and the Grapes and Peaches 10k)?  Was it the fact that at least 3 of the 5ks I raced I had been out late?  Or even that a lot of 5ks were in a hilly section of Delaware?  I had a lot of factors that looking back I trained through 90% of those 5ks so it’s no wonder they weren’t meeting my goals.

To be honest, it was probably a combination of all of those things.  It was demotivating, and none of my races were bad, but they weren’t the progress I was seeking. Finally at the Festival of Races I began to break through my plateau with a 19:13 5k…so there was hope.


How was this already a month ago?

I’m at the point that I know I’m nearly at my goal of Pring!  If the Bone Run wasn’t, a short course I am convinced I would have Pred.  I was on the appropriate pace.  Due to racing other distances and my work schedule, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take a stab at in November but hopefully before 2015 is over!  As long as I continue to put in the work and effort I know that I’ll see results eventually.  It’s nice to be able to look back at races and see concrete evidence of work.

The next question: Isn’t racing every weekend, twice a weekend, etc. so expensive?

Actually racing shorter distances really isn’t that expensive.  Most 5ks are between 20-30 dollars, but it’s a hobby I truly enjoy. Most months I spent between 100-200 dollars on race fees. With running a few half marathons recently, it’s been more expensive.   I like going to run a race most weekends and it makes me happy…so paying race fees doesn’t bother me.  There are much more expensive hobbies out there such as triathaloning or marathoning…NYCM I’m looking at you.  I wrote a post about how to save money on road races” as well.  I still, practice those and I actually found a Groupon for RnR Philadelphia last month.

Questions for you:
How do you measure your progress?
How often do you race? 



  1. BLAH. I’m in the process of coming out of a compliant/less-than-motivated training cycle at the moment. I’m finally getting a fire back that I can honestly say was down to that of a lit match for several months. With THAT said, I started seeing progress a couple of years ago, and started seeing that progress with racing just about once a month. Coinky-dink? I don’t think so.

  2. First I wanna say your progress is great hollie, I see you have improved very well keep up the great work,
    I like to race a Lot of 5ks, (22 races by end of the year).they are fun. I like to find a race plan for each of my races and see how I progress, I do need to throw in some intervals and tempo.
    Jan and Feb of next year since there are hardley any races I want to train hard on the track and street to get back into speed work.
    5K are great, inexpensive, and just great to run. Weather I pr or not ,help me look at what I need to work on..
    Good job running this year,hope to see ya at a 5k race soon.
    Happy running.

  3. I raced 2-3 times a week all summer in pursuit of my 50 5k goal. Now I race about twice a month.
    I like to measure progress by looking at faster race times. Sometimes I still do relatively well in a race but run slower than I wanted to.
    I won my age group in a race this year, but ran 30 seconds slower than the year before. Should I be disappointed? All things being equal, I was still the fastest old guy that day.

  4. That progress is amazing Hollie! I think we all hit a road block like you did for two months, but then you came back stronger than ever! So amazing. I measure my progress by how well I can do consistently- I can have one race that’s amazing, but if I’m not consistently improving I don’t think that’s progress. I like to make graphics of my running stats just so I can visually see what’s going on. It’s always been easier for me to interpret graphs and images rather than a bunch of numbers. My graph has had a steady increase in mileage, and a steady decrease in times for all my races this year, which shows that I had a great year!

  5. If racing 5ks makes you happy, $20 is totally reasonable. People blow way more money than that on movies and alcohol and other stupid stuff in the name of “entertainment.” I’d rather run.

  6. I race about twice a month. Sometimes 3 times in a month depending on how many Saturdays that month has. I could race every week, but I like to do stronger long runs on the weekends I don’t race, and we don’t have a ton of races to choose from here. There are no races this weekend here so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t (unless I drove a few hours which I won’t do). But I did a half last weekend and have one this weekend- it’s okay to take a Saturday off racing!

    I agree it gets expensive but I have gotten several comps for serving as a race ambassador as well as a local running store ambassador. Plus, sometimes races will post codes or even have giveaways on Facebook. I have won an entry or two that way. You never know unless you try!

    You have done a really great job of progressing with the 5Ks! You’re right it is never linear or easy but I think you’re VERY close to PRing in the 5K. Your speedwork + racing often is really paying off.

  7. Wow, your hard work is paying off, and I agree with everybody else, that I don’t think you are far from another PR. I’ve never gone sub 20 in the 5k, so I’m not sure of all the work that goes into a sub 20. I don’t race very often, partially because of cost, partially because of time. I need to sign up for one soon though.

  8. Congrats on your progress, Hollie! I kind of feel like I’ve hit a wall with my running, where I’m not getting worse but not exactly making any progress either. Definitely frustrating, so I think I have to make some changes to my training.

  9. Your 5k game is getting really strong, i hope you can squeeze a few more in before the end of the year so keep marking that progress. I agree the 5k/10ks are much less expensive than a half and if you do local races those are even less. I only wonder if racing so much is good for the body? My DR gets mad at me if I race too much but Im doing all halfs, maybe since its a shorter distance its not so strenuous?

  10. Your progress is fantastic! I wish I could turn around my regression in times the way that you have. You clearly have the potential to PR in the 5K and half marathon very soon – it’s just a case of finding the right races by the look of it.

    I like to race a lot too, and luckily for me there are so many cheap local races that it’s not usually a real problem. December, January and February are dead months here though. I mean, I understand it because the weather is so unpredictable and it sucks to have to cancel a race, but it would be nice to have a few more around.

    Progress tends to be synonymous with time/getting faster for me, but I’m also trying to think of it in terms of how long I can hang on without serious injury as well!

    1. I hope you are able too as well Jess. I wonder if you might benefit from 5ks as well? I’ve found them to be really good to me the last few months…where the marathon never was!

  11. it’s been really interesting to see your progression with races, especially the past few weeks where it seems like you’ve had some major breakthroughs! I’m really excited for you to finally hit that PR for the 5K that you’ve been working towards. I kind of miss racing 5Ks. I say that all the time, but I just end up doing a million other things and it never happens. One of these days…

  12. I’m on the race shorter distances plan myself. It is cheaper and you can recover a lot faster. I feel like I keep having to explain why I am not running a marathon this year but the truth is I just didn’t want to and am enjoying FINALLY getting back some speed.
    I love watching your progress and it is in part what motivated me to get out there for shorter distances.

  13. Your 5K plan has my attention and I am considering it…if I can just stop with the marathons for a season! I also have that little 50 state goal and skipping a season means that goal takes longer…so I guess it’s all a balance of figuring out what is more important. But you and your racing are so inspirational and have changed my thinking about what it is I’m doing. Bart said it too – if you want to get faster in the marathon, get faster at the shorter distances. And that’s what you did all summer, and look at your half times. Boom. The proof is in the pudding (or in your case, whipped cream)!

  14. I feel like I’ve been pulling a Hollie by racing so much lately! It’s been a fun change of pace though, and just enjoying it without stressing!

  15. It’s great to see your race times improve and progress, and you’re right to hold off until you want to train for a marathon.. After reading your 5K post a few weeks ago, I’ve decided that’s what I should be doing too, so all my efforts will be going into that until the end of the year. Hopefully I’ll get a PR, but it won’t be anywhere near where you are at the minute.. Keep up the good work 🙂

  16. You can never race too many 5k’s, only marathons. Only marathons. 😆

    It’s not mentally easy to race 5k’s every week. Hills, heat, wind, etc, make it impossible to compare week to week. You might have 4 races in a row in shitty conditions. Not easy.

    So doing this definitely makes you mentally stronger, it’s good for the soul not to race for PR’s every damn race.

    1. That’s such a good point. I’ve found myself comparing to various 5ks I’ve run, despite the terrain differences or conditions. It’s something to seriously consider!

  17. You’re definitely moving in the right direction! I see a new 5K PR very, very soon. Honestly, I think 5Ks are extremely inexpensive for the value you get – a speed workout on a timed, measured course with built-in motivation, a free t-shirt, and whatever prize/money you win.

    1. 5K races are cheaper than going to the movies,
      Or clubing at night ..
      Well spent money on 5k races.
      Evey once in a while they’ll have some good food and drinks and music..
      Happy running.

    1. I was just thinking about, I don’t think I’ve run any races recently with good refreshments!

  18. I like that you race so many 5ks. I think I’m going to focus back on shorter distances again (after Shamrock next year). I just prefer them.

    I think you’ve made a ton of progress in the last few months and that hard work is REALLY paying off.

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