5 Things I Learned Training for a 5K Race

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Slow Your Roll

My brain has delusions of grandeur and wants me to be a much faster runner than I am. I sometimes start out too fast and then run out of steam. This has been on of my biggest problems when I run a race without training -- I start too fast and then get frustrated when I get tired really quickly. I have to force myself to take my pace down a notch. My training schedule really helped me nail down a comfortable average pace for my training runs. During the shorter training runs I played around with bursts of speed and improved my post-sprint recovery time. Knowing my ideal training pace helped me be realistic about my goal time. I'm not speedy and I knew I was unlikely to set any personal records on this race. I wanted to finish feeling strong, which I did thanks to my training. Mostly.

Take Care of Issues During Training

One of the best reasons to train is that it helps you work out your issues. I don't just mean your mental issues, though I will tell you running has been a fabulous way for me to relieve some of my personal stress. No, I'm talking about the physical issues. I encountered two main issues when training and while I worked out one, I ignored the other and that bit me in the butt on race day.

The first issue, the one I actually worked out, was one that many of my female friends have dealt with -- my sports bras sucked for running. I have a small band size and I had trouble finding a good sports bra that was tight enough not to ride up but not so tight that I didn't get stuck in it. Don't laugh. I was really lucky my husband was home that one day I got really, truly, and painfully stuck in a new sports bra. Thankfully I found a few sports bras from Moving Comfort on sale at my local running store and bought them on a whim. They work great for me. Problem solved.

The problem I didn't fix involves my feet. About a month into training I noticed that while on runs beyond a certain time and distance my feet would go often numb. Slowing down to a walk didn't help much. The only thing that really worked was to stop running completely. I thought I had fixed my problem by changing how I laced my shoes and tying my laces much looser. Problem solved! Except not. Right about the mid-point of the race my left foot went completely numb. I walked. I tried running again. I walked some more. I ended up walking more of the race than I ever intended and possibly even more than I did the year before. I hobbled along until the last stretch when I pushed myself to run to the finish line. It was disappointing and while mad at myself for not really fixing the problem, I was happy that I had at least experienced it before race day. I knew how to deal with it in the moment and I did. (And yes, I've since gone shopping for a new pair of running shoes.)

Adjust Your Race Day Expectations as Needed

I tried really hard to be realistic as the race grew near but there was always that part of my brain that said, "What if..." What if I ran faster than I ever ran before? What if I kicked my own butt? When I got to the race I reminded myself my goal was to cross the finish line feeling better about the run than I had the year before. If I happened to finish faster that would be a bonus.

By the time I hit the second kilometre I realized why I had found this race so hard the previous year -- it's hot. The day I ran there was a heat advisory and the humidity was so thick it felt a bit like running through soup. Between the heat and my foot issues, I revised my unspoken expectations. Finishing faster was off the table. I just wanted to finish while running as much of the course as possible under the circumstances.

In the end, despite the heat and my numb foot, I finished feeling pretty good about myself. I had issues on the course but thanks to my training I knew I how to deal with them on the course. Bonus? I still finished a smidgen faster than the year before and I didn't give myself an asthma attack this year! Woo!

I trusted my training. And it felt great.

Karen Ballum is a Community Moderator on BlogHer.com. She also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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