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Top 8 5k Blunders that Everyone Makes

by Daniel Johnston

Well, maybe not everyone makes all these mistakes all the time. But I bet if you’re a 5k runner you’re either going to make most of these mistakes or you have already:

1. Wearing New Gear

Donning anything in a race that you haven’t worn in training is a recipe for disaster. Definitely do not try out your new running shoes in a race. Most likely you will get blisters or other unpleasant things. Most likely nothing will go wrong with your shorts or anything, but why take the risk? In a race, stick to the routine.

2. Eating or drinking too soon before the race

Ok, this one is important. Eating or drinking too soon before a 5k can completely derail you, give you big stomach cramps, and even make you throw up (or wish you would). Everyone is different, but I can’t really eat anything less than 3 hours before running, so I just eat after the race. Definitely err on the side of caution here, because the side effects are not fun.

3. Getting stuck at the beginning

This isn’t so much of a problem in smaller races, but in bigger races with a lot of people you can easily get stuck in a large mass of people, unable to move. This can be frustrating and you can end up spending a lot of your energy just trying to get out of the mass of people.

Instead, go more towards the front. Even if you know you can’t stay there the whole race, it’s better to get passed a bunch of times than to waste a lot of energy before the race really even gets going.

4. Following the Pack

People often tend to treat the 5k as too much of a race against other people and be more focused on running with other people than maintaining a good pace for themselves. This can work against you into two ways; if a lot of the people are faster than you and you try to keep up with them, you can get tired out quickly and end up killing yourself. You shouldn’t expend a ton of energy just to try to keep up with someone.

On the other hand, there may be slower runners than you, so you kind of match your pace to them and don’t go as fast as you could and should. This is definitely frustrating.

To avoid all of this, run your own race, based on what you want and feel. Period.

5. Wasting Time at the Aid Stations

A lot of people get sidetracked and spend a lot of time getting their water or whatever. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break during a 5k if you need it, you should be conscious of doing it. If you decide, “I’m going to rest at this aid station,” then do it, but also stick to it if you only want to stop for a few seconds and take a quick drink before you keep on moving.

6. Going out too fast

This kind of goes under the 4th one above, but it also has to do with you. A lot of the times people will get really excited at the beginning of the race and go out at a pace they can’t keep. Don’t do this! You will slow down later in the race and you will feel terrible both physically and mentally. Physically because you’ve pushed your body too hard, and mentally because you’ll have a lot of people zipping by you while you’re slowing down.

The best way to run a race is to have a negative split, which means to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. Although most people won’t do that, it’s best to try to run them as evenly as possible. Run conservatively at the beginning of the race and then speed up later.

7. Sprinting at the end

Sprinting at the end has got to be one of the absolute dumbest things you can do. While it’s only common sense to speed up as you get close to the end of a race, all out sprinting makes no sense at all.

By sprinting at the end of a race you will literally only gain a handful of seconds over if you didn’t. You also risk collapsing and not finishing the race. Even if you don’t fall over, you’re going to feel horrible. It may feel good psychologically, but really it’s just stupid. Definitely not worth it for two seconds.

8. Caring about your time

This is a big one. Obviously you should want to do well in a race and meet your goals.

In the end, though, you’re running because you want to run, because you enjoy running. So don’t let your time get in the way too much. Some runners are completely obsessed about time, but really they are missing the whole point of running. You didn’t start running because your goal was to get some specific time, did you?

When the race is over, just feel good about having done it. Inevitably you will learn a lot about yourself as well as about running every race. But for now, just celebrate your good race, whatever the time was. You can analyze it later, not now.

If you stop being driven by time and start being driven by what makes you happy, your running will be a lot better. I promise.

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