How To Run A 5K: Tips To Help You Master The 3.1 Mile Distance

A great deal of people who run the 5K, much like preparing to run the marathon, start out too fast.

how to run a 5K

Remember, it is only 3.1 miles so you have to be patient early on and don’t go out too fast.

You have to manage your pace properly and focus your running around running at your specific goal pace in training.

Seeking Alternatives

I wrote about this specifically in my post A Proven Technique That Will Get You Racing Results 

You can be ready to run a great debut 5K in as short as 8 weeks. 

In order to run fast, the athlete must be conditioned to both physically and mentally experiencing running fast through their entire athletic career.

Speed must never be neglected at any stage of development, whether it be in the cold of winter, the pre-competitive season in the spring, of the peak of summer.-Dr. Joe Vigil

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Run Your First 5K

Take it slow Runners thinking about training for their very first 5K should gradually build into running their mileage. Do not over think about missing days.

It takes times and fitness will come but you cannot rush it. I would find a race 12 weeks out.

You can run a 5K and be ready to do it in 8 weeks. We have 5K training plans for beginner to advanced level athletes available here at rundreamachieve.

My focus now is to help athletes develop to the highest levels.

Check Your Iron

I was found to be severely anemic while competing with the Army World Class Athlete Program. If your body runs low on iron you can have all the motivation in the world and still fall short in workouts. In addition to that, I couldn’t figure it out until Lisa Larsen Rainsberger had me take a blood test and it turned out I was anemic.

Iron is necessary for production of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. If your hemoglobin level is low, less oxygen reaches your muscles. Furthermore, your VO2 max and racing performances suffer. Lastly, iron is a component of many other substances in the body, such as enzymes in your muscle cells for aerobic energy production.-Pete Pfitzinger

Start With Walking

If this is your first attempt at running the 3.1 mile race and so don’t go out and try to run everyday day of the week. As you get stronger and your fitness grows gradually incorporate a few short runs into your week. Look at your goals and let them drive you.

You are already focused, otherwise you would not be reading this in the first place. I wrote a short post about this in 4 Helpful Facts To Help You Run Your Best This Year and cannot stress enough that finding the joy in your preparation and using your drive to prepare will pay you back big dividends in your first 5K.

Incorporate in fartleks

 Early on examples of workouts should look similar to this:
2 minutes walking x 2 minutes running, simply put this means walking for 2 minutes than running for 2 minutes and repeat 5 times
5 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 4 minutes running, 4 minutes walking, 3 minutes running,
3 minutes walking, 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking, 1 minute of HARD running, 1 minute jog
10 minutes running, 5 minutes walking, 10 minutes running, 5 minute walking

Strength and stamina

Later on and as you build your strength and stamina up you can start to incorporate more time running than walking. I think you will find that your fitness will come to you far faster than you realize and walking will not be something you even want to do.
The key is building your foundation first, then start focusing on building into the workouts that revolve around running fast. I wrote about this extensively about this form of preparing in The House Building Guide to Running A Faster Marathon although it is for 26.2 mile distance, the principles are the same. Build, than implement the race specific work

Long run

 Early on, you may have a weekly long run of 5 miles. Great. That is an awesome start so as you get further into your training focus on getting that distance up to 7, then to 9, then to 12.

The amount of strength and endurance you will build by doing one long run per week is without question, the bread and butter workout that will not only give you the strength to run the 3.1 mile race but will totally shock you in how powerful and strong it will make you

Relax Your Face

Yeah, I know it sounds silly but this is a tactic I have used countless times in my own racing that has made a big difference in my race efforts. If you relax your face your body will relax. The great thing about this tactic is you can practice it every time you go out the door.
Focus on how you’re feeling when you’re out there. Are your shoulders tense? Drop them. Can you feel your face tensing up? You can consciously loosen the tension you’re feeling by simply relaxing. This is the key to running faster. Practicing  relaxing your muscles at race pace.
Your Competition
This is not a bad thing. Drafting off of an opponent does not make you any less of an athlete. It is done all the time and other runners want to share the burden of the race effort with others as it is. Ever see the Kenyans at the major road races?
They run and train in groups. One person paces for a mile, another speeds up and helps the pace. The race will be much more fun if you can find someone within your race who will be willing to help you.

Make friends

 You can make friends before the race even starts.
Ask them what they are wanting to run and if it is in the same ballpark as your goal than work together.
Running a 5K for the very first time is such a great feeling.
I remember mine. I was nervous but the fact that it is only 3.1 miles can take some of the stress off of you.

Closing Thoughts

Remember to have fun, gradually build into your training. We are not looking to put in 100 mile weeks and running sub 5 minute miles out there.

This is your first experience so enjoy it. That is the one thing we as runners who are in the competitive bracket totally forget.

The focus on times and hitting certain splits get in the way of the very thing we are trying to do, enjoy the hard work we have put in. Runners at higher fitness levels can learn a lot from beginners so I commend you all.

How to run a 5K is about learning as you go, finding what works best for you, because everyone is different, and gradually building your fitness level up so that you can easily tackle the distance.

You’ll run the 5K and then want to test the 10K.

You may eventually be running 100 mile races.

I can tell you when I was in high school running the mile and 2-mile at track meets, running the marathon was never something I had ever envisioned myself doing.

Define your goal

Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. There are also running courses and monthly, online coaching available here at rundreamachieve. You can view these options by looking at the navigation menu at the top of this website. I hope this post on how to run a 5k has been helpful to you.

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