Looking To Train For the OktoBEARfest 5K? Keep On Track With This Plan
In my opinion, preparing or training for a 5k race can be done in 4-6 weeks. You can also prepare for a 5k in the form of “minute” or time on your feet vs. miles because it is such a specified and short distance in the running world. This is both for the novice and the experienced. However, there are some things to consider such as the race goal, time for recovery, and the volume of work or experience leading up to this current race. If your race pace or goal pace is a much higher goal this time around, your training will indeed need to be different. If your time for recovery is small and you have decided to jump into this race with a plan on simply finishing your training also may look different. And finally, if you have a rather large volume of training leading up to this event, you may be looking to set a personal best, so your particular training would look very different from someone who just simply wishes to finish the race.
Regardless of the scenario, all of these different situations do not change the fact that even today the best documented way to prepare the body is with periodization. This simply means the athlete is breaking up training into segments or periods. This is typically done in weekly increments. Obviously, more time to train for your race is better and more experience at that distance would be ideal, too. However, the end goal remains. This is an effort to plan for the optimization of your body to be on race day and to run at your goal pace or Personal Record (PR), which normally means fast! Of course, the goal is also to complete the distance without injury.
This is why within your periodization and training that leads you up to the race, it is a good idea to cross train. Almost all training plans at this point will have at least one day of cross training assigned for an athlete. Even elite, high-volume athletes who run 80-100 miles a week are cross training in order to avoid overuse injury, because it provides critical muscle development that will make you a stronger and faster runner. This is accomplished by using lateral movement, weight training and resistance work which strengthen smaller stabilizer muscles never used in running, balance work and sport specific training like agility + speed work. Cross training can be anything from a day where you do a different sport like cycling or yoga, or actually get inside a gym with coaches and move the body in a different and dynamic way like F45 where I work.
With proper rest your training (in the form of running miles and cross training) should have you optimized on race day by the end of your entire race preparation. That is the true goal. Therefore, some of the things I mentioned earlier will play a critical role in: how hard you train, how many miles you log on a week-to-week basis, how quickly you can ramp up your periodization and how much time you need to “taper”. This is another key, highly recommended part of the process and is typically done at the end of your preparation. The “taper” technique gradually brings down your weekly training volume or “segments” and prepares the body by slowly bringing in rest and less stress in the form of less miles. A typical taper is done in 1-4 weeks depending on the race distance. For a 5k effort one could properly taper in 7-10, depending on how long and hard you trained.
Some things to keep in mind in preparation for your 5k:
If you can, run with a buddy or in a pack! I always tried to do the “lone wolf” thing. It made me headstrong, but some training camps were very difficult and lonely.
Track weekly miles vs. overall volume. Log both to ensure you are not over training.
Ramp up wisely. After a few weeks of periodization and adding more weekly mileage, take a week where you run about 10-20% less before making another jump into higher mileage.
Cross train at least 1-2 days a week
Rest!!! 1-2 days a week.
Plan the length of your taper based on how hard and long you trained for your race.
Plan out your race day!
Try and have fun, too! You’ve trained hard… so enjoy it as well if you can. You earned it!
Consider a massage the week of the race and deal with any nagging injuries. Be smart.
What to consider the night before:
Do your best to plan your rest. If you are traveling, stay as close to the race location as possible to avoid early morning stress and possibly missing the start time.
Avoid eating heavy or overeating. If you have eaten healthy, nutrient dense meals after your workouts during your 5k prep, “carb loading” is unnecessary and a myth. Eat a healthy meal like you’ve been doing during your training leading up to this moment.
Avoid eating anything new. You don’t want stomach issues the day of the race. This is often caused by runners who eat something they normally do not in order to get an edge. Don’t overthink it regardless of what you read online, or your friends tell you.
Avoid anything new! The same thing goes for shoes and gear. Avoid any new gear that rubs and chafes or shoes that cause blisters.
Stay hydrated! Remember hydration is almost a 72-hour process and is always vital. Don’t wait until the night before to realize you neglected to hydrate during race week and need to chug down water. Avoid bloating and or cramping.
Know the area. Avoid getting trapped at roadblocks or being lost. Do your homework. You trained too hard to miss your 5K!
Lay out your clothes, gear and nutrition the night before, down to your socks and shoes and even a running gel! This will prevent a frantic drive back home for any items you’ve forgotten.
Important reminders for the day of your 5K:
Always try and have fun. Keep it light. Be kind to other runners. A couple of nice conversations with fellow runners before the race is always a positive start.
Meditate on success. Before the race, rely on the positive self-talk, power mantras and words of advice that may have been given to you during your preparation. Use what works for you and find your inspiration and motivation.
Know your goal and know your pace. Do not get caught up in the excitement and anticipation of the early moments of a race. This oftentimes will cause runners to come out too fast and overexert themselves.
Have your game plan and stick to it. If that means run/walk or maintaining an 8-minute mile pace that you believe you’re capable of running, then do it.
Think and run like a race car! Run a straight and clear path to the next corner or turn. Too many runners start to sway and drift as they run, especially when they fatigue.
Finish strong. Plan for a good finish based on your skill set… even if this means just sprinting as soon as you see the finish line. How you finish matters. At a certain point in the race, begin to envision it. Let that picture in your mind inspire and motivate you to keep going and finish strong. You’ve got this!
Enjoy the experience! Whether you hit your goal, reach a PR or complete the distance. Find a moment where you give yourself the reward of enjoying what just took place. Make new friends, trade stories, congratulate and celebrate the moment and others.
Written by: Steve Newton
NASM-certified Personal Trainer
Regional Coach with F45 Training Horizon West