If you remember from my first blog post in August when I set some running goals for myself, goal #2 was to run a sub-30 minute 5k. I am proud to say that I can cross that one off the list! This past weekend at the Christopher Martin’s Run for Children 5k I finished in 29:54! My previous PR was at Jamie’s Run in Wethersfield when I ran a 30:20. So while I made it just under the wire for my goal, I did make it! Now I have to work harder to be consistent and keep my time down in future races.
A few things that I think contributed to beating my goal in this race; 1) What I eat. I don’t like to eat really early in the morning. That, however, doesn’t help me when I have an early morning race. I’ve been trying to be better about eating something, even if it’s something small, on the morning of my races. The morning of this race I had a bowl of cereal and half of a Chocolate Honey Milk. I’ve been paying close attention to how I feel during a race and how that corresponds to what I ate before the race. During a 5-miler a few weeks ago, I felt fantastic and I attribute that (at least partly) to the steak and eggs I had for breakfast that morning.
2) What I wear. For these cold races, I’ve been wearing Patagonia Capilene pants that I bought at Trailblazer and I absolutely love them. They keep my legs warm pre-race and wicks away moisture when I’m running. These are essential for me to run in the cold weather.
3) Pre-race running. I always attempt to do a solid warm-up before the race actually starts. I used to be that person who would do some stretching but not actually warm up with a jog before the race started. I always thought that I would tire myself out, but the more I run, the more I realize that warming up my legs is the most important thing I need to do before running a race.
4) Starting place. This is a personal decision for me, and is not what I would recommend for every runner. I prefer to start at the front of the pack, or as close to it as I can get. I find that when I start at the back or even in the middle, I spend more time worrying about getting around other people and not running into anyone that I don’t pay attention to my breathing or my pace. Starting at the front of the pack allows everyone who is faster than me to take off and allows me to just worry about myself, and everyone behind me can move around me. I start in the front on the right, since it’s running etiquette to move to the right if you are slowing down or walking.
5) Pacing. I used to be one of those runners who would RUN for a few minutes and then walk. And then RUN and then walk. What I found is that if I keep a steady pace then I can jog the whole time. It was important to me to find a pace that I was comfortable with so that I could finish a 5k without walking. Once I found that pace, then I could step it up slightly if I wanted to in order to push myself. In a few races I tested out different paces throughout the 5k to find what would work best for me. I tried running faster in the first mile so I would hit Mile 1 at 9 minutes or less, but found that I would be too tired in Mile 3 to run the whole thing. I tried keeping a 10 minute pace in the first 2 miles then stepping it up in Mile 3, but that wasn’t helping me get to my goal. So I went for the middle. I ran just over a 9 minute pace for the first 2 miles which gave me some leeway for the last mile. And this is what worked.
So now I have all winter to train on a treadmill to work on getting my comfortable pace to 9 minutes or less a mile. This is my goal, so that by race #1 of 2011 I can continue to beat my PR for the 5k.