The 5K is the most popular run today and new people are joining this quest every year. although it is a shorter distance than the half marathon, it is not an easy race for many runners. New runners who are physically unfit take more than an hour to complete these short distance. The main reasons why so many runners record a slow time are, heavy legs, breathing problem, side stitch, stomach cramps and injury.
The best way to increase your 5K running speed is by improving your physical fitness, eating well, training smart and racing with your brain.
Improving your physical fitness
1. Build a Foundation: Don’t make the mistake of trying to run too fast too soon. Looking at pro athlete racing on TV may make you think running is easy and you can run as fast as them. Running fast is never easy, those pro athletes run fast because they have been training since they were teens. Start by running slowly for a period of 4 months. During that period your body will get used to the rigors of road running and get strong in the process. it is after building this foundation when you start thinking of doing fartleks, speed works and interval training. In the early days of running you should be doing jogging not running.
2. Lose Some Weight: The number one reason why people are slow at 5K running is they are overweight. Carrying excess body weight can put additional stresses on your joints and cardiovascular system when running. Studies have shown that losing weight can boost running speed.
For each pound of excess weight you lose you could increase your speed by 2 seconds per mile.
3. Breathing: Running is an aerobic activity. The more you run, the better and easier the breathing. You lungs and heart adapt gradually to the higher running intensity.
Newbie runners are misinformed and believe that you should breathe only through your nose while running. Effective breathing while running means getting in enough oxygen to power your body through an intensive workout. The only way to do this is by taking in large, deep breaths through your nose and mouth. Don’t wait until you have run for a few miles before you start deeper breathing, the sooner you start the better your body will be oxygenated. If you can get into a good rhythm of breathing that matches your strides it will make it easier to breath enough and in the right quantity. When you breathe out try making a panting noise. This helps you to take lager breaths and align your breathing with your steps.
Smart training for a 5K race
4. Find a running partner: Some people prefer to run alone, allowing themselves time to be with their own thoughts. Running alone may be more spiritual but you could be missing out on the many benefits of group running. A friendly running club or running partner with make running a more social pastime, you can share stories, goals or even worries.
Most importantly, a running partner who is faster than you will push you to run faster. You will develop the habit of running fast as you try to keep up with his running pace.
5. Mix things up: Changing your running route regularly will keep the running experience fresh and more interesting. New running routes get your attention away from the effort of running and towards the enjoyment of the experience. The more you enjoy your running, the faster you will run.
6. Music: Using a portable music player while running can help improve your running experience. The distraction of listening to music you enjoy can make running seam easier. Time seems to pass quicker and you feel more upbeat and energetic.
7. Recovery: Running places huge stresses and strains on the body. Muscle cells are physically damaged during training. This trauma can cause soreness and even injury. If your body is given the chance it can repair the muscle damage making them stronger.
5K Running Hydration and Nutrition
8. Water: Dehydration is a threat for all runners. Losing water through sweat and breathing must be replaced in order to stay hydrated. Dehydration can happen both in hot and cold weather. Even experienced runners get this wrong and vastly underestimate the amount of water they need to replenish while running longer distances.
The best indicator of when to drink is watching your thirst.. If you start to feel thirsty then you are already dehydrated. You can lose 3-4 pounds of water per hour when running and this causes a decrease in performance of about 6%.
9. Best Diet for a 5K runner. The best diet for an active runner is one that is heavy on carbs and low on proteins and fats. Running is energy demanding and the main source of energy is carbohydrates. Eat lots of carbs so that you will have enough energy to fuel your runs. The diet is different for runners who are trying to lose weight. They should eat more proteins and lesser carbs.
Best 5K Race day strategy
10. Be economical. Don’t get carried away by the excitement of the race and go out guns blazing.
Your 5k race day strategy should go like this. Start relatively slowly, but not too slow or you won’t be able to make up lost time. Divide your race into three parts. First third run just out of your comfort zone. The second third of your race you can start pushing a bit harder. Then with about a kilometers to go you start piling on the pace and the last half you run all out.