Runners World Articles: Archives - April 2001
5-K or 10-K: Take our quiz to determine which
race distance is for you
The 5-K is not just the most popular race distance for U.S. runners;
it's the only race distance for many of the runners I meet. And
because these 3.1-mile events are so abundant and relatively simple
to train for, it's easy to get stuck in a 5-K rut.
If running a 5-K still challenges you physically and mentally,
and gives you all of the racing excitement you need, that's great.
But to find out if you're stuck in the 5-K race rut, take the uiz
below. Two or more negative responses mean that you could benefit
by moving to a longer event such as the 10-K. Following the quiz,
I offer you some simple but effective 5-K and 10-K training tips.
1. If you write a 5-K race on your calendar, does it motivate you
to run on days you wouldn't run otherwise?
2. When you finish a 5-K, do you feel as if you've really accomplished
3. Do you feel like bragging to your friends or wearing your race
T-shirt after a 5-K?
4. Are you running as many races as you did 1 or 2 years ago?
5. Between the time you wake up on 5-K race morning and the race
start, do you feel at all nervous?
Sticking With the 5-K
If the 5-K race distance provides all the motivation you need, you
can still energize and improve your training with one longer run
every other week. Just adding a few minutes to this run on alternate
weeks will help improve your endurance as well as your 5-K racing
Your 5-K race times will also improve if you add a speed session
each week. At a local 400-meter track, try the following workout:
After 3 to 4 easy warmup laps, run 4 x 400-meter repetitions. Pace
each 400 about 5 to 8 seconds faster than your current 40-meter
pace for a 5-K. Walk or jog half a lap between repetitions. On each
successive week, add an additional repetition or two until you reach
10 to 12. If you eventually want to try a 10-K, continue to add
repetitions until you reach 18 to 20.
Moving Up to the 10-K
If you're ready to step up to the 10-K, you can do so in just 1
month. And by preparing for the 6.2-mile distance, you'll improve
your endurance and 5-K racing in the process. But the greatest benefit
of stepping up is the positive attitude and sense of accomplishment
produced by breaking through new physical and mental barriers.
Here's how to start:
The pace of these runs should be about 2 minutes slower per mile
than your 5-K race pace. You'll speed up your recovery from these
runs by adding 1-minute walk breaks every 5 minutes.
- Try one speed session each week. Follow the suggested 400-meter
workout given in "Sticking With the 5."
- Other than your long run and speed session, don't increase the
distance of any other runs during the week.
- Run a minimum of 3 days a week. As long as you're recovering
quickly, you can continue with the recovery periods in your current
program. No need to add any running days, as this may lead to
injury or increase fatigue.
- It always helps to do practice runs on the prospective race
course, if you can. This will prepare you mentally and physically
for the specific challenges you'll face on race day.
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