I’ve run a sub-20 5K three times now. (Wow, that’s a lot of numbers in a row – you didn’t get lost did you?) The last 2 times I ran a sub-20 were completely unexpected. Both of them have been within the past year and I have been training hard in order to hit those sub-20 times. So, I have actually started to think it isn’t all about how I have been training.
It’s about how I race…
I have run A LOT of races. More races than I can even keep count and at pretty much at every distance I can think of: 1 mile, 5K, 5 mile, 10K, half marathon, and marathon, just to name a few. I always try to go into each race with a game plan because as any runner knows, you are really trying for that PR every time – even when you say that you are just running for fun. My game plan has always been: start out conservatively, pick up speed, and run my fastest pace at the end of the race.
However, after my last sub-20 about a month ago, I’ve started to rethink the way I race. At this point in my running career, I feel like my training is pretty solid. I know exactly what I need to do in order to increase and maintain my speed. So, I know that my racing is the thing that needs to change. And since I actually timed myself with splits and all during my last sub-20 5K, I was able to get an idea of what I do during my races that can help me in future races.
Let’s just say my game plan has completely changed. My race last weekend really was the thing that made me rethink going out at a comfortable pace. I’ve run races going out too fast and it has kicked my butt at the end of the race, especially in half marathons and marathons. But, I feel like 5Ks are different and I am missing out on using the beginning of the race to my advantage.
With that being said, there is still a fine line between going out fast and going out too fast. I think that is where I will really have to work out the kinks and start timing myself on my races. What is going to be the best pace for me to continue to race at a sub-20 pace? Which means I’m really going to have to start timing myself during my races and playing with my pace a little bit. It’s going to take some time and some tinkering, but hopefully I can figure it out and possibly adjust some things I do with my training.
I won’t lie. My next goal really is to be a sub-19 5K runner, but at this point, that’s kind of a far-fetched dream. But, I have to take some steps to make that a reality, and tweaking my racing is part of it. I guess that means I need a new goal race to train for…