5 Mile Race Strategy

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tomorrow Jen and I are running the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler. I had some questions about how to run a 5 mile race. I know it's one foot in front of the other, but I was curious on what strategy is best for this distance.
Unibrow runner has questions. He also looks like he's been riding a horse all day.
Unfortunately, it's hard to find information on strategy for a 5 mile race. I even searched for 8k race strategy since that is basically the exact same distance (4.97097 miles). Most advice falls into one of two camps. First, just run it like a 5k and hope for the best. This strategy has you grabbing the tiger by the tail and hanging on for dear life.

"Come here kitty!"
The risk with this strategy is that you blow up. Not literally blow up, but burn yourself out to the point that you have to significantly slow down. I was close to this once in a 5k. If the finish line had been a half mile longer I think I would have died. I would like to avoid this outcome.

Running pro tip: don't blow up.
The second paradigm is to run it like a short 10k. This means make sure you run a negative split. Take it easy in the first few miles and then push hard. This strategy seems to make a lot of sense, but it also sounds kinda boring.

I do not know which strategy is right or best. My 'made-up' strategy for this race will be as follows:

Mile 1: Go fast the first 400-800 meters. Just embrace the fact that I will fly out of the gate. Then slow it down to my goal pace or just a bit slower. Even if I slow it down the first mile will still be a fast one due to the start.
Mile 2: Keep control of myself and go at about 5 seconds slower than my goal pace.
Mile 3: Same as mile 2, but if a group is near me try to latch on and run with a group.
Mile 4: Pick up the pace and run at my goal pace or 5 seconds faster
Mile 5: Go for it. Embrace the pain and don't leave any time on the track.

On another note: I won't dress up in a costume for this race. This race is one where most people will be wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and reindeer costumes. I actually did consider wearing a costume, but, as Jen pointed out, it seems silly to spend $20-30 for a costume that I will only wear once. And there is always the risk that the costume will impair my running. Rule #1 for a race is "wear nothing new on race day".  A costume would definitely be breaking that rule. That is, unless I did a training run in the costume. Not going to happen.

My goals for this race are:
1) Run faster than my 10k pace from last Saturday (6:48/mile)
2) Average a 6:30 mile (32:30 time)
3) Run under 30:00 (long term goal)

Do you dress up for races? What has been your 5 mile race strategy? Have you ever blown up?

1 comment

  1. I don't run, but I come here for the stick figures.


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