Speedy Running Strategies & Summer Running Goals

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on June 15, 2011


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.



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.


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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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

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Jessica June 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Came across your blog on foodbuzz & am your newest follower!!!
– Jessica @ http://cajunlicious.com


Angela (Oh She Glows) June 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Thank u!


Angela June 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I just started running five weeks ago and I’m running my first race on Sunday. I hope to break 40 minutes and then gradually speed up from there. I did 5k last night in 41 so it should be doable. I hope everyone has a great summer filled with running fun.


Jane June 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Great job on your speedy run! I used to love the 5k when I ran track. You could try some interval training. A good workout to try is a 4 min on followed by a one min recovery jog 5 times. Also try a two min speed one min jog and work your way up to 10 x. I like doing these on a nice flat path. You will really improve your pace! Keep up the good work!


Stefanie @TheNewHealthy June 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I have run 3 5k’s to date and I hope to run a longer race sometime soon! :)


char @ char on a mission June 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I haven’t ran ANY races yet, but I think it would be smart for me to start with a 5K. I ran 5.7 miles on my own yesterday, but the thought of entering a 10K really scares me for some reason. Maybe it’s the thought of it being a race?

I actually looked at that 5K in Oakville. I figured if I die (figuratively speaking), I always have my grandparents who live there to come and rescue me! haha

My friend was also looking into a 30K night run…which kind of intrigues me a bit (yet, here I am worrying about a 10K in the day…d’oh!)


Katherine June 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Few questions:

Do you know of something like Garmin I can get but for MUCH cheaper?
How do you keep your ipod with you?
What is your normal schedule for running?


Lisa @ happypuppyluckylady June 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I LOVE your running tips and it was EXACTLY what I needed right now to prep myself for this Saturday’s Summer Breeze 5k I signed up for!! http://www.runforyourlife.com/race/summer-breeze-5k I also read your tips on how to run a negative split–which I have never had explained to me. So I’ll def try to speed up the 2nd half of my 5k this Saturday and keep your tips in mind to sprint that last half of the race to better my time. Thanks Angie!

P.S. I have ran 3 5ks in the past, along with 1 8k and 1 half-marathon…but this was all in 2007! So I’m just now getting back into running after taking a long break away from running the races.


Anne P June 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I love that you point out that a “speedy” run and a “long” run will be totally different for everyone. So true!


jodie June 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm

My new running song is Florence and the Machine’s Dog Days are Over — love it love it love it!


Carey @ Positively Blonde June 16, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for the tips, they are definitely very helpful! Especially the last one haha I’m hoping to run my first 5k this fall, so I will be sure to keep these tips in mind :)


Emily June 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Love this post! I’m 3 weeks and a few days away from a 15k, I’m so excited!
I’ve never done a 5k but I have done a 4 mile race which was fun! It was a couple weeks after I had run my first half-marathon so it seemed like a very quick race to me!


Mel S June 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Great run Angela! You are super speedy!! I have ran numerous 5ks, and completed my first 1/2 marathon memorial day weekend! I love you suggestion for drinking GM after runs, I usually refuel with GM after my long runs. Do you eat anything before you run or race? What have you found that works best for you? How long do you usually wait to run after you eat to avoid stomach cramps?


Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble June 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm

I love how you’re just getting started on your outdoor running for the summer and I’m wrapping mine up because of the heat!


Aja June 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Those are great tips and they’ll be really helpful for me. I’m getting back into running after a year of being banned from it. Hopefully someday I’ll do something more than just a morning run.


Isobelle June 16, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for this!


Lauren June 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Angela, kind of random, but I have Food Network on and a commercial came on for the Next Food Network Star and I thought of you. Seriously, you should try out for the next season. How cool would that be?!


Molly @ RDexposed June 16, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Ugh, I’ve been down and out for 13 months from a training run my half marathon. I need to take up yoga. First I must move to a city with a yoga studio though!


[email protected] June 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm

these are allll great tips Angela! I totally agree about the h20–even a few drops are enough to soothe dry throat.


Natalie June 17, 2011 at 2:26 am

Woo good luck! Ive been training for a half marathon, but then found out that the race day was on my birthday..my 18th birthday :( so not sure whether im gonna do it anymroe :(


Alyssa June 17, 2011 at 5:26 am

For some reason I find that longer songs (6-7 min vs. 2-3 min) REALLY help me and my run. You get lost in the song, running to the beat, and before you know it, a huge chunk of time/road is gone!
A couple suggestions: John Butler – Ocean & The Grateful Dead – Sugar Magnolia


ellalinea June 17, 2011 at 5:32 am

I’ve signed up for my first 10 k in september!!! :) So excited, I’ve never run a race before..

I hope to do it in 1hour and 5 minutes..

thanks for the great tips!


AGS @ WestWithFlight June 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

Thanks for the suggestion about the couch to 5K program. I’ve been having difficulty getting back into running after the pregnancy, and this looks like a really great plan. Yes — I’ve run 5Ks and other distances. I like 5Ks because they are often run/walks and so is a more relaxed atmosphere. I think they are just a fun way to start a weekend morning. Good luck with your training!


Holly June 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I just finished week 3 of the Couch to 5k program this morning, and trust me, I’m not breaking any landspeed records. It’s a slow jog or a slog. But I did it, and I’m proud of myself for committing to running 3x per week and putting myself on the top of my list to get it done. That is big for me. I’ve got my first 5k event in September and that is what I am working for. After that I’ll start working on increasing speed with the tips you recommend above, thanks!


Mikki June 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Well I am done having my babies (21 months and 3 months) I am ready to get my body back and I have started running now. At first I sucked so bad…I couldn’t run more than a couple minutes, but yesterday I ran 2 miles without stopping and they were both 12 minute miles. I was so proud of myself. I have set my goal to run a 5k at the end of September (registering tomorrow!) and I will be doing a 2k fun run in mid-July as practice/continued training. My long term goal is to run my city’s half marathon in a year from now (and fit back into all my old clothes!) Thanks for all the great tips!


Kim June 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

finally leaving a comment (love your blog!)

I’ve only run a few small races, but when I do, I always try to pick out random people ahead of me and make it my goal to pass them and find someone new. This crazy competition in my head keeps me moving even when I want to stop, and even when I’m running side-by-side with that person, I still feel good because at one point, they were faster than me!


Katie @ Real Food Katie's Way June 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

Fantastic tips!! I visualize the finish line every single time I run (which is 3-4 times per week). I am training for a half marathon which is on September 11th.

I like to set hefty goals! I lost 135 pounds. Goal achieved. I started running last year. Goal achieved. I set a goal to run a half this year and will achieve it. BUT I am the same as you. My body does not enjoy running longer distances…After 12-14 KM (which is where I am at right now) my knees ache…My hamstrings cry…My shoulders weep!

After my half I am going to just stick to 10K long runs and 5 K short runs…I’m not a runner as it is so I’m just happy my body is holding on ;)


Laura @ prettylittlewords June 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Great post, Angela! I’m actually running my VERY first 5k next weekend, and I’m in the same boat as when you started….with 3 miles being long, and being barely able to do a 12 min mile! Nonetheless, I’m still really proud of myself and can’t wait to improve!


Selena June 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I’m very new to running and I’m a 30-something mom of 3 little girls who works full time so time isn’t something I have a lot of. I’ve been really trying to get out 3 times a week so I can do the C25K program. I’m about to wrap up week 6, although it has taken me closer to 8 weeks to do it since I stretch my 3 runs out over a week and a half sometimes when time is tight. Not ideal but I’m sticking with it. Goal is to run (ok jog) a 5K on Aug 6th. I don’t really have a time goal, I just want to do it w/o walking. We’ll see what my time is and then maybe I’ll set a goal for race #2 based on time.


Selena June 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Oh and I meant to say that you and the blogs you lead me to (healthytippingpoint, carrotsncake, katheats) are the reasons I laced up the running shoes. You guys inspired me!!


Helen June 17, 2013 at 6:56 am

I used some advice from here when I started running with asthma: http://treatit.net/how-to-prevent-asthma-attack-and-cope-with-it/ But I injured foot in a week. I ran every day, sometimes in the morning and evening and wanted more! Now I am eager to continue in spite of pain but I am not sure that it is harmless. What do you think?


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