Do you remember when I mentioned that I ran a 5K a few weeks ago? I ran it with my bestie Courtney who is moving to Seattle in a few weeks; my favorite thing to do with Courtney is do go on a long run and chitchat the whole way. I’ll miss that the most when she’s gone. So we ran this race together as our last one before she moves.In addition to getting to run with Courtney, it was great for another reason. But first, a little background on my racing history.
My first-ever race was a half marathon. And then a 5 miler, a couple of 180-mile relay races, a few more half marathons and an 8K. Then, two years after my first race, I ran a 5K. I didn’t train specifically for it because, well, how would I train for a 5K? I’d been running distances over 3 miles since middle school.
Since the distance was a gimme, I just went out and ran the 5K (in 13 degree weather at 11:30 PM at night…but that’s another story). I ran it in 25: 56, an average 8:21 pace…and I was thrilled.I couldn’t believe I ran that fast in those cold, late conditions. I started to wonder…what if I actually did some speed work? How fast could I go?
Well, I don’t really like speed work so it never really happened. I kept running obviously, some long distance races, some shorter. And right before I moved to NC from Utah, I ran a 5K in my hometown. On 4 hours of sleep and during a less-than-friendly time of month. After not running for about 2 weeks. I ran it in 24:58, an average 8:03 minute mile. Granted, it was a really flat course but I was still floored at my time since my half marathons all hovered around a 9 minute pace. Yes the distance is longer but I truly thought it was a fluke whenever I ran a sub 9-minute mile. But I was starting to see a pattern: given a short distance and a little adrenaline, I can go much faster, even with these short legs.
So, fast forward to the most recent 5K. I beat my PR by a long shot: 22:30, an average 7:15 pace. My splits? Mile 1 – 7:33, Mile 2 – 7:39, Mile 3 – 7:02. And the best part? I still felt strong and relaxed at the end. I felt like I could have pushed harder.
I even took 2nd in my age group!
Did I consciously train for this 5K? Nope. Did I do track repeats? Nope. So what did I do? Over the past past 6-12 months I’ve:
- been running occasionally with people who are much faster than I am
- lost just a little weight
- switched to Vibrams
- changed my Garmin to lap every mile instead of doing a total pace average (so I could more easily see exactly how fast I ran each mile, which is really motivating to me).
The result: two and a half minutes cut off my previous best.
So, now I have a new goal: beat my 5K PR again. I’d love to get it under 22 minutes. The top overall female winner ran it in 21:10, an average 6:49 pace…and suddenly that doesn’t seem quite so far out of reach. I was the 2nd place female in my age group, but maybe, just maybe, with some conscious speed work and some real dedication to a shorter distance, I could win top overall female in a local race. And that would be freaking awesome.
Do you enjoy shorter or longer races? To me, any race is fun to run, regardless of distance. I definitely prefer training for longer races over doing speed work, but I think I’ve had a change of heart. My current half marathon PR is 1:57 and I’d love to beat that PR too!