Runner's Lounge sponsors a Take It and Run Thursday each week, inviting lounge participants to contribute by posting on their own blog and posting a link on the Runner's Lounge site. This week's topic is 5K and 10K races.
When I started running again 5 1/2 years ago, my goal was to lose weight and get in shape -- I wanted to be more healthy. I wasn't particularly interested in racing except for one race. I had seen a blurb somewhere about a Candlelight 5K run in Greenville, SC. I grew up in Traveler's Rest, just north of Greenville and my parents now live in Greenville. The run was originally scheduled for early March and start time was 9 pm. The original course wound through the old, historic section of Greenville, through Cleveland Park, and was marked by candles in bags along the course. All in all, there was a lot of appeal for this particular race both in its uniqueness and its nostalgia. So, I determined that if I were ever in the US when this race was run, I would visit my parents and participate.
When we took a temporary position in Richmond, VA in May 2005, I knew my chance had come. So, I signed up for the 2006 race. When I signed up, there were only about 4 weeks remaining until the race and I had done nothing toward getting ready. I was participating in the Runner's World Beginning Runners' forum at the time and got some prep advice from others. They said the best thing I could do was to run 5 x 1km repeats at goal race pace. I made a beginner's mistake and set my goal for too quick a pace and couldn't maintain that pace for 5-1km intervals. Fortunately, the race was rescheduled for early June and I had some more time to prepare. Though I didn't hit my "Wow!" goal, I was pleased with my time (22:46), coming in 76th overall and 5th in my age group.
Since that race, I've run in two 10K races and three half marathons. All of those were chosen because of something unique about them. Whatever success I've had in those subsequent races came as a result of what I learned in my novice preparation for that first 5K race -- the value of speedwork. As I've prepared for each 10K and half marathon, I've continued to do track work (either 800m or 1600m repeats) and longer tempo runs. Besides training my body and mind to run faster, I think one of the big benefits of speedwork is that it breaks the sameness of normal training runs that tend, at least for me, to be at a steady pace -- speedwork provides some needed variety. So, my advice to new runners who are getting ready for a 5K or 10K is to do some kind of speedwork during each week leading up to a race (except for a lower mileage rest week every 3-4 weeks).
Run well, y'all,