8 Strategies to Hack a Good 5k

It has been a LONG time since I pinned a number to my singlet and raced. I am healthy, happy and enjoying running again, so it’s a perfect time to have some fun and race again.

I love to race.  I enjoy training too, but racing is where I get to truly have fun with running.

8 Hacks to Have a Good 5k Race
8 Strategies to use to have a good 5k

I’m going to outline 8 strategies I’m going to use to make sure I have a really fun, positive experience in my first race in almost a year.

I’ll start with what I’ve been doing and then what I need to do in the 24-48 hours prior to the race.

For me to even think about racing, I’ve had to put in some work over the last few months.  I am not a chronic racer – meaning I don’t race unless I feel I’m ready to race. So over the last 2-3 months, here’s what I’ve been doing to get to this point.

Long-Term Strategies

1. Increase my daily, weekly and monthly mileage.

Remember that everything is relative.  Even running 2-3 days a week is better than zero days a week.  For me, it is sometimes difficult to put mileage into context. I’ve run over 11 miles a day for weeks on end and now I’m definitely not doing that.  I’m a different kind of runner with different kinds of goals, so 11 miles a day is not happening. Either way, I’m doing more than I was and that’s what matters.  

I know that I’m consistent because I keep a training log.  After every run, I fill in what I did, how I felt and then I monitor my running to make sure I’m progressing and not running too much or too little.  

Do you keep a training log? If not, why not?

3 reasons why runners should keep a training log
3 reasons why runners should keep a training log

2. Keep training as consistent as possible.

Yes, my mileage is low, but it’s consistently low on purpose. I have lots more on my plate than I did even just a few years ago (hello Lucy!), so it’s not in my best interest to also add lots of mileage. I’m getting to the gym and doing strength work including my glute exercises, I have the ability to cross train if I’m run down and I’m also not afraid of moving around an off day if I need more recovery.

3. Create and follow a race plan

This is more or less something I practice and refine as each week passes.  As a coach, I help runners create race plans, so I’m always thinking about how to maximize race performance even if it’s not me I’m perfecting it for.  I believe in my abilities to perform at a high level because that’s my expectations. I don’t expect I’ll ever do something “just because” without the necessary thinking, planning and executing beforehand.

Now that we’ve covered a few strategies I’ve used over the last few months, not it’s time to look at what I’ll be doing now to prepare for the 5k.

TrainwithMarc's Race Day Routine
Race Day Routine

Short-Term Strategies

1. Get good sleep

I know it’s said everywhere, but sleep is literally my everything.  I’m not in love with sleep – it’s not what I love to do – it’s what I need to do.  I function at 100% when I get somewhere between 7-8 hours. When I get my sleep, everything else falls neatly into place.  

Until recently, I used to track my sleep.  I would almost always get my hours, but the type of sleep I got wasn’t always consistent (heavy vs light).  Once my Garmin watch strap broke, I had no desire to wear my watch to bed, so now I don’t track my sleep, per se, anymore.

2. Make sure my GPS watch is charged

This is a really easy one, but it helps set the tone and my state of mind.  When my watch is charged, my body is charged. I also don’t want to be scrambling in the morning to make sure it has enough juice to get me through the race, so doing it the night before really helps.

Charged GPS watch = win
Make sure your watch is charged!

3. Pack my race bag

Again, this isn’t a deal breaker, but why would I want to be finding racing shoes, racing shorts, a hat and compression socks in the dark at 5 am?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be doing that! Plus, if I can’t find something, isn’t it better to not be able to find it at night rather than as the car is pulling out of the driveway?  That’s why I created a “race day routine” that I’ll be following to help me.

Race Day Clothes
Setting up your clothes ensures you have everything

4. Have music to pump me up

If I’m going to be in the right mindset, I’ll have to have some music that gets me there. Sure, my nerves will be amped (heck, it’s my first race in almost a year) so I’m sure I’m not going to need a whole lot to get me there, but music will help me get in the zone and that’s what I’m looking for.

5. Eat a good breakfast

I won’t eat a lot prior to racing, but I will want something in my belly.  I’ll probably have some oatmeal with peanut butter and honey – that seems to sit pretty well for me these days.  Again, I don’t need a lot, but something to fuel me is what I’m looking for.

Recap: How I’ll Hack this 5k

I have plenty of racing experience over the years, so I’m not worried about making rookie mistakes, per se, but more about how my body will respond to the faster pace.  One thing I’ll definitely do: get in a really good warm up.

8 Tips to Hack a Good 5k
8 Tips YOU can use to have your best 5k

I’m going to do everything I can to put myself in a position to have fun and end the day feeling like I gave it everything I have at this point.  I will be a long way away from my lifetime PR, but as long as I enjoy racing and having fun running, I’ll call it a very big victory.

Happy 4th of July!

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12 thoughts on “8 Strategies to Hack a Good 5k

  1. deborahbrooks14 July 5, 2018 — 1:38 PM

    A good warm up is something that I always overlook! Perhaps that is the key to success? Thanks for the reminder


  2. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets July 5, 2018 — 4:09 PM

    Really great tips! The last 5K that I ran, I forgot to bring my watch, let alone charge it, lol! I hope you had a great time at the race, regardless of the finish time!


  3. Sleep is so important and probably one of the things I do most poorly. Not because I’m not trying, I just don’t sleep very well anymore. I also don’t warm up as much as I used to, probably because I don’t place many expectations on myself anymore. Maybe I need to try that to see if it helps!


  4. Sleep is my downfall. I’m lucky to get five hours each night, but (ironically) I seem to function alright with that. I always lay out my outfit (and gadgets/accessories) the evening prior to a race. I usually have an hour drive to most of my races, so I don’t have any extra time in the morning to search for things. Also, I have learned to do a short easy-paced warm-up before the start line, especially for a 5K. I don’t want to spend the first mile of the race getting my body/mind in the zone.


  5. 5 hours? Whew, I’d be in trouble. Warm up is a must for me no matter the race distance! In fact, the shorter the race, the longer my warm up is.


  6. Definitely try warming up. Makes a big difference. Here’s an entire blog I wrote about warming up (and the routine I follow): https://trainwithmarc.com/2017/12/22/warming-up-for-a-race/


  7. Oh no!!
    I did have fun – it was really, really hot and humid, but the first race in about a year went as well as it could have.


  8. I’m totally with you on keeping a training log & getting everything together the night before (although it seems like invariably I forget something).


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