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girlofscience's avatar

How do I train for a 5K race in three weeks?

Asked by girlofscience (7449 points ) February 27th, 2009

On March 21, I will be running in the Great Human Race. It is sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Durham, and all of the volunteers of local organizations will be lining up to race for our causes. As expected, I am racing for my animal rescue group, Independent Animal Rescue (IAR).

I will be competing in the women’s 20–24 bracket.

I have a fit body, but not a lot of stamina. Currently, I can only run about 2 miles straight. (5 kilometers = 3.1 miles.) Will I be able to run for the full 5K in three weeks if I train everyday? If so, what is the best way to go about training?

Should I focus on speed or stamina?
How much is it healthy to push myself beyond my current limit?

Fitness experts and runners, please offer your advice! I am devoted to running as well as I can to support the animals of Durham!

P.S. – If you are so kind as to be interested in sponsoring me, please feel free to read more about my cause and support me here. Even the smallest donation brings me closer to my personal fundraising goal of $1,000 and to the overall IAR goal of $12,000.

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10 Answers

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I would focus on speed AND stamina. Perhaps 3–5 days a week alternate sprints with distance running. There’s really no magic secret to running. Either you HAVE been running and are therefore ready.. or you haven’t.

cak's avatar

GOS – is it truly a speed race, though? Usually, these are based more on the fundraising – is the goal to finish at the top or to raise the funds?

If it is more of a fundraising, focus on stamina first, then speed. If it is more of a speed race, do what NaturalMineralWater suggested.

How healthy is it to push? Just like anything else, taxing your body beyond it’s normal limits has inherent risks. It’s going to be important for you to pay attention to the signals that your body is sending you and heed any warnings.

This is all just my opinion, as a runner.

Bagardbilla's avatar

I’d do “interval” training (google it) for four days a week and run for 2–3 of the remaining.
You got plenty of time! Especially if you can already run for 3 miles.
Goodluck!

funkdaddy's avatar

With three weeks to train, I would just concentrate on getting the stamina up. From running cross-country when I was in high school (which was 3 miles), we didn’t really train for speed until we could run about twice the race length. Before then it seems you’re just risking injury.

For what it’s worth, I would go out the next 4–5 days and run each day until you felt like you couldn’t anymore, keep track of how far you go. Then take that 5th or 6th day off to rest. Don’t worry about the speed portion, but don’t walk unless you have to. After your day of rest you’ll have a good feel for where you’re at and can probably judge your 5k chances from there. From the little I know about you, you can absolute do a 5k in three weeks.

As far as pacing, you’ll fall into a pace where you feel comfortable and I wouldn’t push much past that the first couple of days. All sorts of little things are going to need to get stronger before you can improve. Every time I start running again my back aches for the first couple days, then the fronts of my lower legs, once I work through those I know I’m ready to go a bit faster. Your experience may be different but there’s usually some muscles you use differently while running that need to get used to the new motions.

Other than that, remember muscles should be sore, everything else really shouldn’t, so keep an eye on anything that hurts ‘down deep’... Also, get good shoes, not necessarily expensive, but newish, they wear out fast.

Good luck with it and let us know how the training goes.

ubersiren's avatar

Here are some links to have handy if you’d like to train quickly for:

5k
http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

Marathon
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/marathon/calendar.html

They’re calendars with detailed programs. From what I hear, it’s 100% effective. From what I hear.

robmandu's avatar

For me, if you’re just talking about adding a mile to a distance you’re already comfortable with, then I’d suggest simply running 5k on your very next run.

And I would suggest running that same distance about 3 times/week until the race. Don’t run the day before the race.

If all you’re capable of is running 5k, well, you won’t be the fastest. You’ll need to ramp up to longer distances so that 5k will seem easy by comparison.

But I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun in any case.

BTW… don’t try to keep up with the crowd when the race takes off. Focus very much on keeping your own pace. It’s hard at first, but pays off when later you realize you’re passing a lot of folks who are already bonked from getting caught up with the crowd.

kevbo's avatar

Wow. I did the Great Human Race in Durham about 10 years ago with Public Allies. Funny.

Another strategy (from amateur marathoners) is to run for four minutes and walk one minute.

Good luck!

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I always use the “Smart Coach” feature at www.runnersworld.com. Here‘s a link. I’m not positive if it goes down to as little time as 3 weeks though.

Futomara's avatar

Lard! Eat lots of lard.

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