5k Perfection and Leg Speed

I decided to race a 5k last weekend (August 3rd) to test my summer fitness before fully transitioning back into marathon training for the fall. I ran this same race last year in 19:47, so I was excited to see if I could beat my time. I did a 5k on July 4th, but I underperformed most likely because I hadn’t done enough 5k specific training since my marathon in May and I hadn’t done enough heat training for such a hot race.

I really focused on speed and leg turnover this past month, and a week before the race I had a great track workout of 8 x 800 meters with 400 meter recoveries. The 800 meter repeats (about 1/2 mile) averaged out to 3:07 (6:16 pace), so I figured I should be able to run a 5k at 6:16 pace. The volume of work in 8 x 800 meters is about 4 miles versus the 3.1 miles in a 5k, but you have to factor in the rest breaks which allow you to recover and go a little farther than you would without the recovery time. Of course you cannot judge your fitness based on one workout, but I had several other training sessions including mile repeats and progression/tempo runs that pointed to the same pace.

I was very pleased with my pacing at the race, and I ran the 5k in 19:26 (exactly 6:16 pace as predicted!). I felt strong and my breathing was controlled throughout the race. My mile splits for the 5k were 6:13 (slight downhill), 6:25 (slight uphill), and 6:21 with the last 0.1 at 5:50 pace (uphill!). I beat my course time from last year by 21 seconds, which is a big improvement in the 5k.

I am hoping to maintain some of my speed as I enter marathon training by incorporating more accelerations/sprints and faster repeats throughout my workouts. I have noticed my cadence (steps per minute) has increased in the past couple of months (both in workouts and easy/recovery runs), and I believe this is fully attributed to a stronger focus on speed work. I am looking forward to improving my leg speed even more as time goes on. While having fast leg turnover might not correlate directly to the marathon, it gives you a more efficient stride. I am learning 100 to 200 meter intervals can be just as important (and thrilling!) as 10 mile marathon pace long runs. Everyone is different, but I am more of an endurance based runner than a speedster and it is good to work on your weaknesses!

I don’t have any photos from the race, but we have beautiful berries in our back yard. We also have an abundance of zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, basil, and parsley! Additionally, I want to share this quote from Headspace that reinforces how quickly life passes by. Every moment comes and goes so fast. Soon it will be winter, then 2020, then summer again. Hope you can find joy in each day!

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