Why 5ks are the Best

It’s no secret that I love racing 5ks. While I love racing in general, 5ks are the easiest to distance to race hard, recover, and race again next week.

Recently I was asked about tips and strategies of how to race and PR.  I can show you what has worked well for me in the past.  Keep in mind I’m not a coach or an elite!

During a 5k, you have two options:

Option 1: You blink, and the race is over

Option 2: You take the race out too fast, and it feels like five back to back marathons.

If you’ve run more than one 5k, you’ve probably experienced both situations.

So first why race such a short tactical and precise race?

It’s clear the marathon bug has bit a lot of people. The word “only” becomes associated with half marathons.

“New Runner” has become associated with those training for 5ks. To be honest, despite being short, 5ks are one of the hardest races distances to run well. There is little room for error.  Thinking out loud, most any athlete can benefit from adding a few 5ks into their training plan.

But Why?

Reason 1: The need for speed: 5ks make you feel fast. Longer distances make you feel strong while shorter distances make you feel fast.

5ks are quick and dirty. 5ks are all of a distance “race pain” in a short amount of time.

Reason 2: Easier to Recover From: If you have a terrible race, try again next week: I’ve had a terrible 5ks only to be followed by an awesome 5k the following week.

A few years ago, I raced one of the most mentally challenging and grueling 5ks I’ve ever run. It was slow (for me), my legs were fatigued, and I felt awful. I had high expectations and fell hard. I was devastated.

What did I do? I rested and recovered.  The following weekend, I ran an entire 90 seconds faster.
Reason 3: Benchmarks:  You can mark your progress. Two years ago in my quest to gain speed back, I raced no less than 30 5ks in a year.  I was able to track my progress and see small results lead to bigger results.

For some people, myself included, seeing progress is motivating. I like to feel like my hard work is paying off!

Reason 4: 5ks are Fun! It’s one of the few distances you can see a range of people finish. It could be someone’s first 5k or someone going for a PR. Either way, you see a broad range of people from every fitness level!

Tips for Racing 5ks:

These are tips that have helped me throughout the years.  I haven’t counted, but I’ve probably run about 100 5ks.  They still remain my favorite distance.

  • Get a good warmup:  While I don’t always warm up for longer distances such as a half marathon, I find I need to warm up at least 2-3 miles with a few striders before a 5k.  You want that blood pumping.
  • Pacing: I’ve learned that you have to give a 5k everything you have and then keep giving it more. If you take out a 5k too slow, you can often regret it in the last mile.  My goal is always to make it through the middle mile.  I remind myself after mile 2, the race is almost over.
  • Run the Tangents: Okay yeah so .1 doesn’t matter, but realistically it does! A tenth of a mile run in tangents can mean an extra 30-40 seconds.  In such a short race, that is even bigger of a deal.
  • The 5k Hurts: Of course it is easier to finish running a 5k versus a marathon, but it is not easier to race a 5k.  The 5k is all of the pain of a half or full marathon in a short amount of time.  Look around while you’re running and you will see plenty of other runners, riding the pain train.

The 5k is a rewarding and fun distance.  Sure, it’s the shortest to complete but that doesn’t make it the easiest!

Incase you missed any of the previous weeks Running Store and Training:
Thoughts While Working in the Running Store
Should Race in Racing Flats?
Are you Getting Enough Protein for Running?

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race distance?
When was the last 5k you ran?

 

 

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Training: Feeling Stale

Last week on Instagram I posted that I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically with running.  In March my goal is to get back to enjoying it. To be honest, I don’t think it’s so much of “I don’t like running,” I think my life is chaotic outside of it.  Between my husband’s job as well as my personal life, I’ve had a lot more than usual going on.

Last week, my coach, and I decided to skip a workout this week and focus on mental and physical recovery.  The week before, I had a frustrating workout.  My tempo was 40 seconds slower than the goal pace, and it felt difficult.  This week, we decided to back off, and I needed it.

I’ve also had a lot of personal life that has kept me busy.  Since coming back to New Jersey, my personal running has taken the backburner. I’ve had other priorities.  I realized that I was burning the candle at both ends and putting far too much pressure on myself!  Which is silly since friends

There isn’t much to say about my week.  I enjoyed a lot of easy and watchless runs.  I ran with my husband for several of them.

On Wednesday evening, I got a two-hour deep tissue massage which helped release knots in my IT band.  I don’t have any major issues, but my legs have felt stiff for the last several weeks.

Race: Grilled Cheese 4 Miler 24:13

Last year I ran and won the race.  It was the perfect race, and I felt great.  This year, going into that, I knew it wouldn’t be as great.  My body was still recovering from my deep tissue massage, I didn’t feel “great”, and it was 15 degrees. It’s always hard to enter a perfect race knowing you did well the previous year.

Even though it was significantly colder and my body felt as though it was still recovering, I was able to run 24:13 which I’m happy with.  I negative split the entire race and felt decent.

Plans for Next Week:

I plan to continue to relax and focus on myself.  With Shamrock in two weeks, I want to relax and regroup now versus feeling stale at the race.  Shamrock isn’t a “goal race” for me, but granted the weather isn’t like last year, I would like to see where my fitness is.

Posts from the week:
February Training Log
Thoughts While Working at a Running Store

Questions for you:
How do you regroup and refocus when things feel stale?
What was your best workout last week?

Training: Back to the Cold

Last week was a solid week of training.  My easy runs felt good and I had two quality workouts. Since the Mercedes half marathon was more of a workout, I recovered quickly.  Not that I’m complaining…

Monday:  Easy 60 minutes at McAlpine Park in Charlotte
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: 12X2 minutes with 30 seconds rest
Friday: Easy 70 minutes
Saturday:  Easy 60 minutes
Sunday: 2X4 mile tempo (6:42 pace)

I didn’t race this week and I probably won’t next week.  Due to weather, February is typically a “drier” race month in New Jersey. I’m happy to get a couple of quality weeks of training under my belt as well.  My next major race is the Shamrock half marathon in about a month.  That will be a race to hopefully test my fitness.  Incase you are interested, I wrote about my 2017 Spring Goal Races here.

Speaking of New Jersey, I’m having a hard time adjusting back to the climate.   When I left, we hadn’t had a lot of cold days and now running in the 20s feels difficult.  It’s quite a shock from the drastic humidity of Alabama.  So if you see someone running around in a parka, it might be me.

Workouts:
Thursday: 12×2 minutes with 30 seconds rest (average 6:15 pace)

I appreciate my workouts are rarely the same.  This is one of the better workouts I’ve had lately.  I’m back to doing workouts on roads and I felt good

Sunday: 2X4 miles (6:42 average)
This workout intimidated me.  The goal pace was 6:44.  I did the workout on roads and it flew by.  I never felt amazing but I was able to make the pace.

This week will be similar.  I’ll just crank through workouts and get them under my belt.

Posts from the Week:
Mercedes Half Marathon
Saucony Freedom ISO Shoe Review
Love Yourself

Questions for you:
How was your week of training?
Where is your favorite spot to workout?

Training last Week: Travel and 5k (18:42)

Training last week clicked off well. I ran what I needed to and got the mileage in.  I don’t have any complaints about the week.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes (9:20 pace) Core
Tuesday: Easy 7 miles (8:40)
Wednesday: Workout Core
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes (9:05 pace)
Friday: Easy 60 minutes Core
Saturday: Workout: Polar Bear 5k (18:42)
Sunday Easy Mercedes Course Preview
Total: 59  miles

Easy Runs:

My easy runs were slower than usual last week but it was also humid. Most of the days last week were either running in 100% humidity or the rain. I didn’t feel bad or injured, but the heat change was noticeable.

Wednesdays Workout:
4X60 seconds (average 6:00)
1X10 minutes (6:33)
1X3 minutes (5:56)
4X60 seconds (average 6:10)

The workout was definetely different and a nice change. Something I do like about my coach is that he doesn’t give the same workouts weekly. I’m not doing 10x400s each week hoping to see improvmeent, or worse comparing myself when I don’t.

As far as execution, it was one of my better workouts in the last few weeks.
Polar Bear 5k (18:42):

My husband and I decided to take a road trip last weekend. We went to Atlanta and then Birmingham. We have been to Altanta a few times, so we stayed away from the touristy things. We stumbled upon a 5k and when we went there, I was shocked! It was a 1000+ person 5k and we weren’t expecting that. I had a workout that day of 2X5k at 6:45 pace.

I ran the first 5k at 5:58 and the second at 6:50. It was a lot faster than planned.

My splits were 6:00, 5:55 and 5:58. I ran a smart race and I’m happy with it. It was a moderately difficult course and I’ll have a recap soon.

This workout is more mentally challening than anything.  The second 5k is always extremely difficult to get out there. It takes a lot of mental pep talk after a race to get back and run hard by yourself again (I’ve done this workout a couple times: Haddonfield Road Race and Run for Jack). I didn’t want to interfere with racers and I ended up running part of the workout in a hilly neighborhood.

We swung by Birmingham on the way back and did the last Mercedes Course Preview Run.  While the Merecedes half won’t be a goal race for me, it was nice to check out the course.  I didn’t realize it was as hilly as it is.

In summary, it was a good week. The next two weeks are bigger race weeks for me with the Double Bridges 15k in Pensacola next weekend and the Mercedes Half Marathon the following.

Running Related Posts from the Week:
How to Run with a Significant Other
Running Books I’m Reading

Questions for you:
What is the biggest race you’ve ever done?
How was your week of workouts?

Training: 2 Mile Repeats and Hilly 5ks

The last week of training didn’t start off the greatest but progressed to be better towards the end.  I didn’t accomplish my goal at my workout on Tuesday, but after rest and recovery, I felt a lot better.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: 3X2 miles (6:54 pace)
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes
Friday: Easy 75 minutes
Saturday: Run with friends
Sunday: 2X5: Resolution 5k: 18:30, 20:15
Total:  60 miles

My easy runs went pretty well.  On Saturday, I ran with some of my closest friends and coworkers which was a lot of fun.

run-with-friends

Tuesdays: Workout: 3X2 mile (6:54, 6:48, 6:52)

Long story short, I didn’t achieve the goal pace during the 2 miles.  I had an incredible tempo run the Sunday before, and my legs still had lactic acid in them.  I couldn’t change my schedule, so it was either then or never. I would equate it to the workout version of the

I would equate it to the workout version of the Philadelphia half marathon.  I wasn’t feeling great, it was windy and cold, but honestly, I put the run behind me.

I got a deep tissue massage later in the day and took the next day off.  The deep tissue massage, as well as rest, was exactly what I needed.

Sundays Race: Goal 2X5k with 3 minutes recovery

Race: 18:30

2nd 5k: 20:15

I’ll have a recap of the 5k later in the week, but it went well.  The course itself was surprisingly hilly.  hilly workout

I didn’t feel amazing, but I didn’t feel awful either.  I felt like the first 5k loosened me up and even though it was slower, I did feel better during the second 5k.  It was a tough workout, but I was happy with it.

Other than that, not too much else going on.

Posts of the week:
A Recap of 2016 Blogging
A Look Back at 2016 Running
Bettering Yourself with a New Years Resolution

Questions for you:
How was your workout week?
Do you like 2-mile workouts?

How to Become a Morning Runner

As no secret to anyone, it’s summer, and it’s hot.

This means it’s time to complain about the heat and weather.  If your weather is anything like New Jersey than several days have pushed triple digits and record highs.  I’ll be the first to admit even though our humidity is relatively high, our weather is not as bad as other parts of the country.  I don’t miss living in Texas or Virginia Beach right now.

Thinking out loud, there are many options to run through the summer such as running on the treadmill or running outside in the early morning.  I can’t say I’ve always been a morning runner but since college and working, I’ve had to get up earlier. I made the transition from afternoon/lunch to early morning runner.  To be honest, I’ve personally never been an evening or late night runner.  I heard a rumor grandmas don’t run late at night.

How to Become a morning runner

So how does one run earlier? How do you make that transition?
Gradually begin waking up earlier:

Don’t go from waking up at 7 to waking up at 4. Try waking up at 6:30 and then 6.  It’s easier that way.

Sleep in Your Workout Clothes:

Most workout clothes are moisture wicking and comfortable to sleep in.  I’ve slept in work out clothes plenty of time.  When I wake up, I just pop in my contacts, brush my teeth and out the door, I go.

Turn off the technology at night:

Over the years I’ve made a habit of turning technology off between 8:30-9:30  Even if I’m not sleeping, I’m logged off the computer. Honestly, I feel better, and I sleep better.

Stick to It:

It takes about three weeks to become truly acclimated to the time difference.  Give yourself three weeks to feel good.

Just Do It:

Sometimes thinking about something is the worst thing we can do.  If we take the plunge and make something a habit, it makes it much easier.  The biggest piece of advice I can give about becoming a morning runner, is (you guessed it):  Just Do it.

Questions for you:

Do you workout in the morning? Any advice?

What is your favorite time to workout? 

Hiking at Bear Mountain Park

Last week, my husband and I went hiking. I’m new to hiking, but as I mentioned in a previous post, we want to see plenty of local places while we still live in New Jersey.  We are both enjoying it, and it’s been a fun weekend hobby instead of traveling to road races.  To be honest, hiking is an incredibly intense workout and it tires me out more than running.

For our next adventure, we drove 2 hours north into New York State to Bear Mountain State Park.  Yes, Rockland County…no not “Upstate, NY”.  As someone who went to school in Potsdam, NY, 30 miles north of New York City is not upstate.

Bear Mountain is about 40 miles north of New York City.  The park itself has  a lot to do including a lake for swimming, trails, places to picnic and even a zoo.  There are plenty of moderate trails to hike too.  When we went, it was a beautiful day which meant there was no parking at all.  Most people were at the lake beach, in fact, even though hundreds of parking spots were filled, we only saw two other parties during our entire hike.

There are plenty of trails including moderate trails as well as more leisurely and historic trails.  We started with the leisurely trails which included a lot of history stops.

Bear Mountain Hiking

Bear Mountain Hiking

Bear Mountain Hiking
The actual barn

After about a mile we went along the yellow trail and left the historic area.  The trails became much more intense and there were some points we were almost rock climbing.  Considering I’m clumsy, perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. Everything was fine, though and even my ankle felt okay.

Bear Mountain Hiking

It was almost shocking how quiet the trails were because of how busy the lake was.  While I was taking in the atmosphere, Tarzan appeared…just kidding.

Bear Mountain Hiking

After about 3 miles and an hour and a half, we made it to the top.  We could see New York State as well as New Jersey.  Talk about a view; it was one of the most incredible views on the East Coast I’ve seen.

Bear Mountain Hiking

After hanging out at the top for a bit, we decided to head back.  Despite having a map, we got lost. There is another red trail we ended up connecting too and it caused us to hike across the entire park.  bear mountain state park

Our hike was only planned to be 4 miles, but it was 6 for us.  It wasn’t a big deal except I was starving.  Luckily I packed a giant red velvet diner cookie from lunch.

The diner cookie was the real MVP of the hike.

Bear Mountain Hiking

We stopped along the way taking photos of random spots too.  Like when I nailed yoga on a tree…(just kidding)

nature yoga meme

It was a great hike and after finally getting back to the car, I was beyond exhausting.  I felt like I had run a marathon, but views were worth it. Addig the extra 2 miles was definitely exhausting.

bear mountain state park tim and i

At the end of the day, we ended up hiking a 1000+ elevation gain (which is a lot for me). It was a great hike and we are looking forward to going back.

elevation bear mountain

Other hiking related posts:
Hiking Hemlock Falls
Hiking the Hollywood Sign

Questions for you:
Have you ever been hiking?  Have you gotten lost?
Would you rather go hiking or into the mountains?