5K races are one of the most common race distances, with most towns and cities hosting at least one 5K race every week. Here’s how running 5K races throughout the year can help you run a better half marathon distance.
Get Your Body Used To Racing
True, a 5K might only be the first 3 miles of a half marathon, but 5K races are still valuable if your key race goal is a 13.1 distance. Think about it – every time you race 5K you will get your mind and body used to running 3.1 miles. You can use this opportunity to fine tune details of race day (breakfast, recovery food, pacing), or strategically use the 5K to perfect the pace for the first (or last) 3.1 miles of a half marathon.
5K races are the ideal way to play around with pacing. They’re short enough to use as speedwork, or you could do them more often and use the races as a controlled environment in which to trot out your target half marathon pace.
Track Your Progress
Use 5K races throughout your half marathon training to keep a close eye on your fitness, strength, pace, and speed abilities. Some 5Ks are run over the same course (Parkruns are a great example) so you can recreate the same 5K every time. It’s a great way to work on different aspects of your half marathon training.
Get Confidence About Racing
Some people find race day overwhelming or confusing. The more often you do a running race, the more you’ll feel at home with the whole routine: what to eat for breakfast, what to pack in your kit back, what you need for afterwards, and how to recover the optimal way. 5Ks are a low-risk way to rehearse every aspect of race day.
Should you race 5K every weekend? Or just once or twice during your half marathon training? Really the choice is yours. 5K is such a short distance (remember, it’s only 3.1 miles – 25-40 minutes for a lot of you). It doesn’t take much out of you, or demand much time from your weekend plans. So yes, you could race 5K every week (this is what Parkrun was designed to offer). But if you don’t fancy that, you’ll get just as much benefit from scheduling a few 5K races throughout your half marathon training.
Reserve 5K races for early in your half marathon plan (before your long run distance climbs high), for speed sessions (use them for a tempo run), or for weeks when you could run a 5K race and a medium distance long run across one weekend.