How (not) to mentally prepare for a 5K race

So if, like me, you only run one 5K race a year, obviously there’s a lot resting on this one, short race. The chance to set a new PB that will last for a whole year is the one that springs first to my mind. So, no pressure then!

Looking determined at last year’s River Run

So here’s how I’m approaching this momentous day. Which is, in fact, today. At 7.30pm.

First of all, I go to the wonderful McMillan Running website, and plug my recent 10K time in to their pace calculator. So for a 59:26 10K, Mr McMillan predicts that I can run a 5K in 28:36:38. He also helpfully tells me this means I have to run at 9:12:36 minute miles.

At this point, I find myself, mouth open, thinking “9:12??????” Best put the kettle on and have a think about that. You see – this sounds fast to me – seriously fast. Sip tea, and think positive thoughts.

Okay – have had inspiration. I know I ran a fast 3M training run recently, which was under 30 minutes (yay!), so let’s have a look at the pace I ran then. This route slopes down for the first mile or so, and then has a long slope in the second mile. I wont say hill, because its not that steep, but its enough for you to recognise its uphill. Ah ha – splits of 9:19, 9:49 (the slope!), 9:14, 9:19 to finish.

Feeling a bit better now. Warn running partner by text that pace to aim for is scary.

Check on website starting time of race, look at photos from last year and remember that there’s actually quite a lot of running on grass, and paths. Oh, and with the recent very wet weather, maybe a River Run is not the best race to be doing?

Give myself a good talking to again, and decide to stick to the recent advice I read on ‘how to pace a 5K race’. It was basically “Start out as fast as you can, and then just hang on for the finish line.”


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