Speedy Running Strategies & Summer Running Goals

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Back in the day, I used to be into all that crazy track and field stuff. High jump, shot put, long jump, relay, and sprints. Short distance sprints were always my favourite event. I loved the intense, breathless pace and the thrill of not knowing who would cross the finish line first. Sometimes I won, sometimes I got left in the dust. It was always anyone’s race! I still remember the nerves I felt before the gun went off. I had to be so careful not to go too soon and have a false start!

I know, it’s a bit strange to enjoy breathless agony. But the breathless agony leads to this high euphoric feeling when it’s over.

Another example of two extremes is hot yoga. I get hot and sweaty during class but then feel cool as a cucumber (mentally and physically) after class. This contrast of feeling, intensity, and mood is what really makes me fall in love with a certain activity over another.

Over the past month, I’ve been running 3-4 mile distances about 2-3 times per week. While I do enjoy long distance races like half-marathons, I have to admit that they take a toll on my body! I’m injury prone and when I get up to the 10, 11, 12, and 13 mile training runs, I often have to deal with pesky aches and pains. After my three half marathons, I had to take 1-3 weeks off running to recover. Not ideal. I go stir crazy when I can’t move my body. Of course, that isn’t to say that you can’t get injured training for or running a 5k- you certainly can- but, I think it’s cool to switch it up.

I’ve run 7 races (including one triathlon) since I started racing in June 2009 (read about my running journey here), but I still haven’t run a 5k race! I decided to do something about that. :)

5ks also require less time to train, which is good for me this summer as I’m working on a couple new writing projects and spending a lot of time working on our yard and gardens.

Yesterday, I ran 3 miles and pretended like I was running a race. I set a goal of running 3 miles in 24 minutes. I totally didn’t think I could do it. I had to really boot it hard, especially in the last couple minutes.

When I finished, I realized I hadn’t even lost my breath or broke a sweat.

Not.

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Here are the strategies I use for running speedy short distances:

1. Set challenging, but realistic goals: Before starting your run, set a time and distance goal. I base my goals on previous runs for the most accurate prediction. I recently ran 3 miles in 25 minutes, so I thought 24 minutes would be a tough challenge!

2. Bring a stop watch. if you don’t have a Garmin or other distance tracking watch, you can figure out where your mile splits are along your route and then time each mile with a basic stop watch.

3. Set mile split goals if you wish. For each of the 3 miles, I set a time goal for each. If my overall average goal pace is an 8 min/mile and my first mile was 8:34, I know that I need to step up the pace in my second mile. I might set a goal for the second mile to be 7:45 pace to make up for lost time. I’m not very specific, but it keeps me on target.

4. Don’t underestimate hydration needs. I often catch myself thinking that I don’t need to hydrate properly for shorter runs, but this is a mistake! The body needs water every 10-15 minutes, especially in hot weather. I made this mistake today by not bringing my Camelbak and my throat was dry the entire run. Not cool!

5. Boot it: Expect to haul majah booty during the last few minutes! No matter how fast I try to run during the first 90% of the run, I always have to make up for lost time during the last few minutes. And anyways, it’s fun to sprint hard the last bit! I often have negative splits when running short distances with tough goals…it literally forces you to run faster at the end.

6. Blast some fast beats. Fast music = faster running. For me, anyways! Oh and I totally need a new music mix…I’m still rocking the same mix from last summer! It’s driving me INSANE.

7. Have Confidence! Believe that you can achieve your time goal. I can’t tell you how many times I catch myself saying that I cant do it. When you believe you can, you start to run with confidence and power. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection!

8. Stay Loose. I tend to tighten up and raise my shoulders and arms when I run fast. Be mindful of your body as much as you can and shake your arms out when necessary. I often do this several times during a race because I get SUPER tight during races!

9. Visualize you’re running a RACE before, during, and even crossing an imaginary finish line. This will help increase motivation and hopefully, energy. My imaginary finish line is my mailbox. Occasionally, I like to shoot my arms up in the air and cheer. It sounds a bit embarrassing when I type it out like that. Just forget that last part. I would never do such a thing.

10. Streeeeetch. I used to be horrible for stretching after runs, but now I try to stretch, even if it’s just for a minute! It really does help with recovery. When I don’t stretch after a tough run, I pay for it the next day.

11. Dump everything you can find into a blender and slam a Green Monster. Much better.

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Keep in mind that everyone’s definition of a ‘speedy run’ will be different. The same is true for how you define a ‘short distance’. When I first started running, 3 miles was very, very long for me to run (still is some days!) and I could barely run a 12 minute mile. It’s important to do what is right for you at your current ability level and not get discouraged. Running isn’t easy and you should pat yourself on the back for any run that you accomplish whether it be 1/4 mile or 10 miles.

By the way, I’ve heard so many great things about the Couch to 5k program for new runners, so if you are thinking about trying out a 5k race, be sure to check it out!

I’m currently scoping out a 5k race in Oakville this weekend or a later race in June. I’m already shaking in my sneakers!

Have you ever run a 5k race before? Are you training for one now or have any tips to share?

Do you have any summer races planned?

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{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

Mimi June 15, 2011

Great tips! I think it’s important to mix up distances, especially when you are just getting into racing!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat June 15, 2011

I’ve actually been drafting a post very similar to this in my head! I agree with all your tips, especially the music one! I used to run 5Ks when I did cross country in university, and although I didn’t like the distance being so short, I did like knowing that I only had to endure it for about 20-25 mins, then it would all be finished! To get speedy, I practiced a LOT of speed intervals. At the time, I didn’t even know what a green monster was – if I had, I’m sure I would have chugged them by the gallon!

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Holly @ The Runny Egg June 15, 2011

You are super speedy! Great job on your 5k!

My goal for this year is to stick with running. Normally I run a race in June of each year (this year it is a marathon but usually it was a 1/2 marathon) and then I would get burnt out and not run the rest of the year. Then I would start training again the following Feb/Mar and have to kind of start over. I want to improve which means I want to stick with running all summer/fall/year long!

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Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans June 15, 2011

Awesome job! My goal is a sub 25 5k. Hopefully these tips will help me get there :)

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit June 15, 2011

These are some great recommendations, Angela! I don’t know how people run without a watch of some sort. I would be absolutely lost without knowing my pace and setting time goals for myself.
Thanks for reminding me to stretch, too. I don’t do it enough and I really, really should!

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Marci June 15, 2011

you are super speedy! agree that there is a lot of great things to come from short distance running! didn’t know you used to do different track and field things.

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The Healthy Hipster June 15, 2011

LOVE these tips! Especially number 9. I definitely need to have some sense of where I’m going if I have any hope of getting there. In running…and in life! ;)

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Alex C. June 15, 2011

As much as I love half-marathons, at long distances I am injury prone too! 5K and 10ks are a great length for me!

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Lizzie June 15, 2011

My best 5K time was 23:15 – this was after I followed a training program involving some track workouts, honestly not believing that it would make much of a difference. It really did! I am so appallingly bad at stretching. It’s so good for me and I know it, but it just doesn’t seem to be inviting to sit on the floor, even though I definitely have time to do it most evenings. Have a 10K next weekend and did a 5 miler a couple of weeks ago. I have another 10K in the Fall, but am looking for some 5K’s for the summer. Angela, you are super speedy – can’t wait to see you haul ass in the next race!! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 15, 2011

goodluck with your race next weekend! I enjoy 10ks too :)

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Grace @ Healthy Dreaming June 15, 2011

Great tips! I aim to run 4 miles a few times a week on top of other workouts I do. I’ve never run in a race before though and hopefully when the Florida weather cools down, I’ll be able to sign up!

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Felicia (Natural + Balanced) June 15, 2011

yay! i’m so happy for you because this is exactly what has happened to me. i was a sprinter in high school and loved speed work more than distance.. after my half marathon and running long distance instead of shorter, the pains took a toll on my body too.. i was made for speed, not distance :) less time and better results from my workouts is making me so happy, plus i need time in the garden too! :) cant wait to hear about your future races!

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Callie @ Callieflower Kitchen June 15, 2011

I like having my camelbak with me all the time, even for short runs. I’m doing my first race ever this weekend – a sprint triathlon. So nervous!

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Jackie June 15, 2011

Great tips, I’m going to try and implement some of them. I’m running my first 5k in August and am getting super excited for it.

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Kathy June 15, 2011

This summer, I plan on exercising, of course! I might think of doing some at-home yoga too, maybe on the weekends or my days off exercising. I plan on doing Nike Training Club for Women, push ups for arm strength (something I’ve been trying to regain), running, and like I said, yoga.

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Megan June 15, 2011

Loved your running tips. I ran my first 5k this March, and one thing that I always keep in mind is something that my dad told me: “If you can run two miles, you can run three, and if you can run three miles, then you can run four.” When I’m running I use it as a way to remember that half of the pain I am feeling is in my head. It’s easy to forget when you’re running that the pain isn’t only in your body, your mind is trying to psych you out too.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 15, 2011

I love that mantra

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Brittany@ThisSassySalmon June 15, 2011

1. I just fell across your blog… and LOVE it! Seriously… a lot.

2. I don’t have any short races planned yet, but I’m running a 1/2 in the fall and am trying to get my speed up to par so I’m sure I’ll be running a 5k/10k or two throughout the next few months. I just did a marathon this past May but trained at a SUPER SLOW pace and am trying so hard to improve my time.

3. I’ve been on the edge on whether or not I should buy a Garmin watch… I think this post has just SHOVED me over the edge.

Wow, I don’t usually write lists on stranger’s blogs… but welp, there you go! Happy Running!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 15, 2011

Thanks Brittany! :)

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Abby June 15, 2011

I have done a couple of 5k’s. I think they are a blast but when I ran them I wasn’t too serious about it. I think it would be great to do one and go balls to the wall just to see how fast I could really do it! :) I loved the part about waving your hands around at the mailbox! Sitting here laughing out loud now!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 15, 2011

i swear I dont do that… ;)

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Jaclyn T June 15, 2011

I love reading about your running techniques and tricks. I used to run in the fall of 2009, but I injured my IT Band and stopped it. Last summer, after becoming addicted to your blog I decided to start to run again…slowly building up from intervals to longer distances. Your words written in an earlier post “You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are” (I may be paraphrasing) have been my mantra on many a run. I am a firm believer in listening to my body, working to challenge myself but not cause injury. So what if I walk up an insane hill rather than run it? Maybe one day I will sprint up that bad boy but for now my hips and knees thank me for listening to them. I also love the feeling after the breathless agony of running a sprint, and like to end my run giving it my all for 100 metres at the end of my run.
Music is key, I agree! I rationally know I could do a run sans ipod but I have no desire to.

Thanks for your inspiring blog!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga June 15, 2011

I used to run at least three 5k’s per month for about 5 years. I have probably run 500 5k’s in my life? I stopped counting. Scott and I ran together back in the day when we had spare time on our hands and we would run soooo many races. We would do like one a weekend. It was just FUN! We didnt really “Train”. It was just another run. Yes we tried to haul booty and put up good times but if we didnt, we didnt. (races are early in the morning on Sat and Sun and Fri and Sat nights were often late + drinking involved…lol)

I love your tips.

My tip, just run. Whatever happens, happens.

And if you feel like challenging yourself, just run as fast as you possibly can for as long as you possibly can, even if that means cursing the whole way :)

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Melody June 15, 2011

I am a beginner, so I am currently doing a brisk walk workout. I use the Nike+iPod program to blend music, encouragement, and stats all in one application. My best walking mile so far is 15’38″. You may want to look into a podcast called PodRunner. The podcast has a “First Day to 5K” program. Blessings!

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Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons June 15, 2011

Thanks for the tips! I have this bookmarked! I’ve never run a race before but my husband LOVES them so I want to start!!!! <3

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Mac June 15, 2011

I have done a 5K and am currently signed up for a 10K next weekend! My biggest tip is to find someone in front of you and work to catch them… don’t sprint to catch them, because that will only wear you out, but slightly pick up your pace or continue at your pace you are currently running if it happens to be faster than theirs. Good luck finding a race!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

That is a great tip! I’ve used it in some of my races (esp my 10k) and near the end of the race.

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Hayley June 15, 2011

I’m running my first 5k this weekend!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

goodluck!

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Marta June 15, 2011

Hiya Angela!

I’ve been working on my running fitness slowly but steadily since Jan 2010 and I think I’m in love, with shorter distances especially! Working up the nerve to really “train” for a race, maybe soon :) What I have been working on is my playlist! A good thumpy beat really gets me goin. I”ve got a coupla suggestions if you’re interested. Oh and one of the teeny boppers i go to school with clued me in to the magic that is youtube to MP3 converter (google it, 2nd link) so all my dreambeats for running are now a reality.

Afrojack – Take over control
Afrojack – How I like it
Alexandra Stan – Mr Saxobeat
Deadmau5 – Sofi needs a ladder

Definitely on the dancey side but it works for me :D

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

Thanks!

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Amanda Jewell @ Science&Bananas June 15, 2011

I quit running a over a year ago (although I’ll jog maybe once every two months or something, whenever I get the urge to), but I love hiking. Just like running, hiking the same routes/distances/terrains can get boring & so it’s nice to mix it up and try different locations/terrains/distances. I think these strategies are really great and are definitely applicable to hiking too :-)

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Madelein June 15, 2011

no, unfortunately I don’t exercise at all right now….this reminds me I must start tomorrow!=)

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Stephenie Zamora June 15, 2011

I would love to run a 5k! This was a very awesome and informative post. I’m going to bookmark it because I do really want to get back into running. You’re right about it being worth the euphoric feeling. Running and the ocean and two things that give me such a cool, calm and stress free feeling. I’ll have to try out hot yoga! xo

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Vanessa @ Loving the Sweet LIfe June 15, 2011

As a newbie to the running scene, I appreciate these tips!
First thing I must do is get me a high-tech stop watch so I can track progress.
Fast music is a definite must! I dusted off my ipod for my first run and thanks to someone who had used it months ago all I had was Christmas music – not cool! I’ve since updated it and what a difference it makes :)
Do you ever hydrate with coconut water after a run?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

I dont usually have coconut water on hand, but it is great for hydration.
You dont need a high tech stop watch. If you can find out your mile splits locations along the route all you need is a basic $5 stop watch to time each mile. :)

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen June 15, 2011

good tips! I think you’ve convinced me to run the 5K this weekend that I’ve been contemplating for the past month. I PR’ed at it last year but I’m nervous I won’t do as well this year (totally unfounded nervousness) and haven’t committed to it yet.

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Cristina June 15, 2011

Angela, thank you so much for making this post. I have been in a work-out funk for a while now and have just not had the motivation to go run. But as soon as I read this I went and found my Garmin and iPod and put them on the charger for the morning. Thanks for the inspiration!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

whohoo! Hope you had a great workout :)

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Alaina June 15, 2011

Great tips Angela! Thank you!

I’ve run quite a few 5ks and I just can’t seem to break the 26 minute finish time. I’ll have to just give it my all when running 3 miles around town!

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Amber from Girl with the Red Hair June 15, 2011

I’ve “raced” one 5K where I ran as hard as I could and it was really HARD. I had done 4 half-marathons, a marathon and multiple 10K’s before this 5K and I was shocked at how much the 5K took out of me. Running as fast as you can is no joke!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

I hear that from soooo many people! I found the same thing with my 10k…I basically sprinted the entire time.

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Amykinz (foodie4healing) June 15, 2011

Great tips, Angela! Thanks for sharing!

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MB June 15, 2011

I haven’t run a race since junior high. I’ve been struggling with the C25K program and hope to get through week 4 as soon as my stupid knee stops complaining. Strategy # 11 is my favorite ;)

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table June 15, 2011

Great tips! I just ran a 5K and earned a PR of 24:47. You just inspired me to make the next one under 24! :)

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Sarah T June 16, 2011

Great tips! I am using the couch to 10k program for my 10k July 9th. After that race I want to focus on a PR in a fall 5k race. After your last running post I ordered my Garmin and it should arrive tomorrow! Excited to do some shorter distances with the negative splits and push myself a bit more. Thanks for sharing.

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Emily June 16, 2011

Awesome pace Angela :D I’ve never run a 5k – the only ones I can find are the Race for Life ones for Breast Cancer and as I already run for Cystic Fibrosis I don”t enter as I know I wouldnt be able to raise the sponsorship :/

For this summer/autumn I’m running a 10k and my first half marathon (Great North Run – sooooo excited!)

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Angel7 June 16, 2011

I used to run track one year or so when I was in high school many years ago, but have not run since.

I did a walk-a-thon, though, for a cause, if that counts :) I would like to do some more walk-a-thons for great causes.

http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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Julia June 16, 2011

I love your tips!
To visualize running a race has always helped me to push a little harder, too.

I have one question:
How do you warm up before you head out for a speedy run?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011

I usually don’t, but now that you mention it I should be warming up!

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Hayley @ Oat Couture June 16, 2011

Well done on your new time! :) And thanks for the great tips, I enjoy running (most of the time!) but don’t have a watch to chart my progress so I think sometimes I lose focus and give up too early… It’s good to have a time or distance to work towards!

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