Y'know how Jim Fixx died? A heart attack, while he was jogging!
May 14, 2008 10:22 AM   Subscribe

I will be jogging in my first 5K race in a week and a half. What can I do in the upcoming days to ensure I don't crash and burn?

I am not expecting to win any awards or break any records - at my pace and my rate I will call finishing under 40:00 a major, major victory (I have been doing the Couch to 5K program.) But I'm excited (because I never thought I'd actually *be* at this point), and want to make sure I have the best experience possible.

Any advice y'all have, I'd appreciate. How should I spend the next week and a half? I jog every other day, on the course that the 5K will take (it goes right past my house). What should I eat the morning of the race? (It starts at 9am). What should I eat the night before?
posted by Lucinda to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Eat a normal dinner the night before the race. Eat a normal breakfast at least two hours before the race. At that pace and distance you won't need to do anything special to get enough calories. If you want to feel as rested and rarin' to go as possible, you might want to take the two days before the race off.

The key to success in ventures like these is not to start out too quickly. If you just want to finish, then start at your normal training pace. If you want to do a bit better than than, start faster, but not so fast that you're gasping for breath. If you feel great at mile two, you can run the third mile as hard as you can and you'll still be fine.

(Note that this advice is tailored to completing rather than competing this 5k. The 5k distance had all kinds of special stuff about it that has an impact on how you race one, but you don't sound like you're there yet.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:34 AM on May 14, 2008

Make sure you take a crap before you run. And swig just a little water, maybe twice what it takes to make your throat not feel dry.

I'd get out and walk a mile or two, with a kick up to jogging speed for 50 yards or so at each mile, the day before, just to keep loose.
posted by notsnot at 10:38 AM on May 14, 2008

Stretch! Stretch! Stretch! Get loose and warmed up before the race and stretch extra afterwards. This will help make any potential day-after aches much less bothersome.
posted by justnathan at 10:53 AM on May 14, 2008

Have you jogged the full 5K, or more, in training?
posted by beagle at 10:55 AM on May 14, 2008

Congratulations on coming this far! The only advice I can offer is that you should NOT work yourself up by jogging 5K leading up to the event. This seems counter-intuitive but you will wear yourself right out if you go jogging that distance every day for a week leading up to the event. It doesn't really make it any easier, in fact it makes it harder.

In terms of times I would swith to 15 minutes on, 15 minutes walking for 45 minutes with warmup 5 minute walks before and after, do that every other day for the week beforehand. 2 days before don't do any running. As far as food goes don't have a huge breakfast but eat normal the night beforehand. Lots of water and make sure you go to the bathroom ahead of time.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by genial at 10:56 AM on May 14, 2008

Don't "stretch stretch stretch," unless that's already something that you do. The best warm up for running is gentle running. You should never stretch cold muscles, and there is no evidence that stretching ameliorates post-exercise soreness. Many people find stretching to be personally useful, but the evidence on the efficacy of stretching suggests that the recommendation to stretch is based more in myth than fact.
posted by OmieWise at 11:09 AM on May 14, 2008

run the course a few times before the actual race. it will give you a decent idea for where you should be when you're surrounded by faster runners, who otherwise might cause you to run faster yourself, which usually ends up not so well. that's usually the big mistake novices make.
posted by krautland at 11:11 AM on May 14, 2008

Answers will vary, and you'll get to learn what works for you. Personally, I eat almost nothing in the morning before a race, maybe a piece of fruit or something with some sugar. You will be running on the glycogen stored in your muscles over the past couple days, so you don't really need fuel in the morning. And eating before a run can be problematic.

Agree with genial that you should take it easy the day or two before the race. The effects of any workouts you do today will not show up until a few days later. If the race is Sunday, training hard on Friday and Saturday will do nothing to improve your performance. If anything, it'll probably make you perform worse.

Good luck, and have fun! The energy of all the other runners is infectious, and you'll probably surprise yourself!
posted by knave at 11:11 AM on May 14, 2008

Good job on your training. I echo what others people have said: get plenty of rest, eat what you'd normally eat, don't stress, make sure you go to the bathroom (very important) and REMEMBER: have fun!

If this is your first 5K then this is quite an accomplishment. I suggest having someone (family member, SO, spouse, friend, coworker) come with you to the race so they can be part of the excitement, witness your dash across the finish line and partake with you in the giddy post-race feelings.

I love going out for a big protein-filled breakfast after a race. It feels like a celebration. Take time to bask in the glory of completing a 5K and do something nice for yourself. I hope you have a great time!
posted by heatherbeth at 11:13 AM on May 14, 2008

Do everything you can to not give in to the peer-pressure of running faster than you know you should just to keep up with everyone else.

Just stick to the pace that you know you can do, and you'll be fine. You'll have a HUGE surge of adrenaline at the start of the race, but do all you can to ignore the temptation to "kick it up a notch"

Have fun!!!
posted by xotis at 11:18 AM on May 14, 2008

Echo the above and say that just focus on keeping your pace. There will be a lot of people running by you at the start but that's ok. If you do things right there will likely be people you can pass near the finish line. Don't start too fast so you can finish strong.

5K is a real short distance relatively speaking so you don't need to do anything special the night before or the day of. Just do what you would normally do before exercise.

Relax, enjoy yourself and congrats.
posted by mmascolino at 11:47 AM on May 14, 2008

run the course a few times before the actual race.

way, way too late for that.
posted by caddis at 11:50 AM on May 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the encouragement!

beagle > I have not jogged the full course yet. The last week of Couch to 5K has you jog for 30 minutes straight; that only gets me to about 2.4 miles.

heatherbeth > my son and husband will be there at the finish line (they'd better be; the race ends one street over from our house!).
posted by Lucinda at 11:57 AM on May 14, 2008

Everybody has a different routine -- figure out yours during training, and run the race the way you train. Eating, sleeping, toilet, etc. Everything should be the same, except for the distance being longer.

Don't use new, untested gear. NEVER wear new shoes in a race unless you want the blister from hell slowing you down.

And the best warmup for running is neither stretching nor slow running, but brisk walking.
posted by randomstriker at 12:18 PM on May 14, 2008

Congrats. I remember my first 5k, a year and a half ago. It's really a great feeling.

My number one tip would be to not change anything drastically from what you would generally do before your 30 minute run. Getting the last half a kilometer in is going to be largely mental. The best thing you can do for yourself is to strongly, strongly resist the temptation to go out fast. This is what I did my first time and the end of the race was a lot tougher than it needed to be. Stick to your pace and take things slowly. Start near the back of the pack.

Take your time and enjoy. Worry about finishing the race, first of all; your time will in all likelihood be better than you expect even if you don't consciously change anything at all just by dint of being in a race.
posted by synecdoche at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2008

Fully hydrate yourself beforehand... drink lots of water the day before and morning of the race.

Have a tasty spaqhetti dinner the night before.

Race is at 9 AM... no later than 7 AM, you can have yourself a banana or an english muffin, or drink one of these.

Other people have said it, but be cautious of getting carried away and starting out too fast. Run your normal pace. In the last mile, if you're feeling strong, pick it up a bit. But don't go crazy. This is your first one, you're guaranteed to get a PR anyway! :)
posted by BobFrapples at 12:29 PM on May 14, 2008

Whenever I'm a little nervous about a race (especially on an unfamiliar course), I get there waaaay early. I spend the extra time wandering around and stretching, making sure I know where the start is, peeking at the end-of-race refreshments. It does me no other good than to settle my mind, and perhaps give me a chance to use the portopotty a couple of times if the mood strikes. I like to save all of my rushing for the race itself.

If you are an avid pre-run stretcher, I think it's a good idea to spend a little time stretching out after you cool down a bit from the race too; I know I always regret it if I just head on home. But don't try to bust out anything brand new, if what you're doing is working, stick with it.

Enjoy it, and best of luck!
posted by activitystory at 12:56 PM on May 14, 2008

as you've never run a 5k before, the later stages of the race will be uncharted territory. I would say don't be worried if your speed drops a lot over the last 1.5k, just concentrate on keeping going.
posted by rikatik at 1:13 PM on May 14, 2008

If it's a staggered start, try not to get in the very last group, even if that's where your time dictates you start. As a very slow runner I was placed in the very last group of a 10,000 person run and I felt like I had to keep up with everyone around me lest I be the very last person running. If I had started a few groups ahead I could have gone at my own pace and slipped back a bit without having the pace car right behind me.
posted by mamessner at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2008

If you've done 2.4, you can do 3.1; that last 0.6 will feel difficult but take it slow. The taper techniques suggested by genial do work.

After this race, get so you can jog 5K comfortably whenever you want to, and enter some more races. The company is great, you'll feel great. Congrats on starting this program!
posted by beagle at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2008

Don't stress too much. I was in so-so shape...planned on walking a 5K and ended up running a bit and then deciding to run the whole thing and I survived. Hurt like hell for a couple days, but did it. As long as you are generally prepared you will be fine. Good luck!
posted by UMDirector at 5:29 PM on May 14, 2008

Just remember, you are only running three and a half miles, a puny distance, although it seems like a marathon when you are not yet in full shape. Many of the recommendations given so far are more appropriate to a much longer race, pasta loading, long runs in a few days before, etc. For a short race like this, push yourself perhaps tomorrow, but for the week leading up to the race, give a decent workout or two toward the beginning, and for the two days or maybe even three prior to the race do nothing or almost nothing other than a decent warm up. Conserve the energy for the race. You are not in shape so you will not recover from a workout for several days. However, since you are not in great shape, failing to workout will not affect your fitness peak for many, many days. That is why as a less than fit athlete you do not want to even slightly push yourself in the few days prior to the race. You maximize your energy, and don't give up your fitness by resting for two or three days prior to the race.
posted by caddis at 6:05 PM on May 14, 2008

There will be a line for the portapotties before the start. If you gotta go, go early.

More than anything, have fun. There are plenty of people who finish in 40-some minutes at most races around here. Run comfortably, stay within your training pace for the first two miles. Most races have signs at the mile markers and some even have someone there calling out the time elapsed. If you feel good at the start of mile three, pick it up a little, but just a little. If you're running 12 minute miles, run the next six minutes and reassess. If you still feel like you can pick up the pace, do it, there should only be around half a mile to go!

And yeah, have fun.
posted by advicepig at 6:23 PM on May 14, 2008

Ten minutes before the race begins, walk around, don't stand around. Follow the Couch to 5k advice: stop to walk. Maybe you can do half and half, walking/jogging. The last 5k I was in I made a dumb mistake. I got in the front with all the hardcore runners (not joggers but runners), and when they shot the pistol and everyone took off, I unconsciously ran along with them and they dictated my speed. Big mistake. I started cramping before one kilo was up and had to stop to walk. So start slow, and you will be much less likely to bonk.

There's different schools of thought about meals before a race, but a high-carb dinner like pasta makes the most sense to me. Drink lots of water the day before the race, when you wake up in that morning, but little during the race.
posted by zardoz at 12:25 AM on May 15, 2008

Response by poster: In case anyone was wondering, I finished the whole course today...in 39:01. Yay! (Jogged for 18:00, walked for 2:30, jogged to the end.)

I plan on jogging on Wednesday - not the whole thing again, probably just a mile, mile and a half maybe. And then Saturday's the big day.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement.
posted by Lucinda at 5:51 PM on May 19, 2008

Congrats, keep at it!
posted by beagle at 6:54 PM on May 20, 2008

Good luck tomorrow!
posted by advicepig at 9:53 AM on May 23, 2008

Response by poster: Well....except for the part where I accidentally restarted my iPod (throwing myself off my playlist-dictated pace), and except for the part where I realized twice that I'd been running the course wrong (each time resulting in needing to jog further than I was used to), it was...okay! I finished in 39:42, so I got my goal.
posted by Lucinda at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2008

« Older Can't open the hood of her car!   |   HELP! I need to update a site that is outdated. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.