How to Run a Faster 5K:
The Secrets of the Experts
Every novice runner dreams of completing his
first 5K or 10K marathon. Let us focus on the
former, because it’s shorter and more manageable
for beginners. No one likes to “just finish” a
5K – runners participate to win, and to get a
certification that they were the ones who
finished in the shortest time possible.
Questions of speed and endurance often pop up when beginners talk to us about improving their overall performance. Over the years, we have been able to whittle down the most important pieces of advice we can give to people who want to run a faster 5K marathon. Here they are:
1. If you are planning to fly to different time zones prior to your marathon, the fatigue is going to affect your ability to perform at your best. We recommend that you expose yourself to as much natural daylight as possible before flying, as well as during your flight, and sleep as you would if you were in your normal time zone. If you allow yourself to become fatigued and jetlagged because of your flight, say goodbye to beating your personal record.
2. Bring ideal, power-packed snacks when you participate in marathons. Ideal snacks include dried fruits, grain mixes, nuts, etc. Also, don’t forget to bring several canteens of pure, cold water. A portable fridge is a good idea if you are planning to run a marathon in a dry and hot area. Have someone else follow you in a car as you progress through the course. Hydration during a run is very important!
3. How hydrated are you? The most accurate indication of proper hydration is urine color. If your urine is clear most of the time, congratulations – you are drinking enough water! If your urine is dark yellow or tea-colored, you are dehydrated. Start drinking more water!
4. If you want to increase your speed as well as endurance, be sure to perform hill run exercises at least once a week. Find a hill or any stretch of land that has sufficient elevation in your locality. Run uphill as quickly as possible (set a fixed distance or time) and then slowly descend from the top. Do not try to run downhill if this is your first time to perform hill runs! You might end up twisting your ankle if you do so.
5. The ideal/planning training time for a 5K marathon is 8 weeks. The final day of the 8-week training period is race day. As such, you have all the time in the world to experiment and plan before your 5K marathon. Find what works for you during the 8-week training period, and crystallize your technique before race day. On race day, don’t change your running style. Do not deviate from what you have already conditioned your body to do. It is very easy to make mistakes if you suddenly choose to experiment on race day. Experiment on your running techniques during the first half of the 8 week period, tweak on the fifth and sixth weeks, and solidify what you really want to do on the seventh and eighth.