Top 5 Reasons I Love 5Ks Road Races

Top 5 Reasons I Love 5KsWhen you starting looking at potential road races the choices can be overwhelming. There are so many different distances 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon and many more. At least where I live, you can’t pass a weekend without finding at least one run somewhere in town. Out of all of the possible races, I like the 5K the best. A 5K, or 5 kilometer, race is 3.1 miles, 16,638 feet or 196,416 inches if you really want details. Five kilometer races are my favorite for these reasons:

1. Reasonable training times fit in with work and family. If you have limited time to train but want to find a race length where you can complete and try to lower your time, you may like a 5K. Generally, your longest runs for a 5K are no more than 10 miles and if you are more of a casual runner, you may not even run that far.

2. Not too long for speed. If you like to get your speed up, a 5K is short enough to feel like you can push your speed without having to conserve too much for later miles.

3. No need to carry water bottles or energy foods. 5K races usually have at least one or two water stations along the route which is plenty for the distance. Also, I’ve found that unless I’m running more than five miles that I do not need water for training runs. (This may change when temps skyrocket in summer months.)

4. It’s the easiest distance to learn to run without walking breaks. Since a 5K is typically one of the shortest road races, it is the easiest to learn how to run the distance without needing to walk. If you are a beginner, it may take 12 to 16 weeks to work up to a full run for a 5K, but you definitely can achieve the goal.

5. They are fun! 5K races are fun. Most runs have a theme or a charity attached. Some people dress in crazy clothes and costumes to fit the theme. During Christmas runs, some races even give prizes if you run the race wearing antlers. Most races have awards and some bigger races have food vendors and music for an after party.

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How to Run with Your Child when they are Faster than You

Run Around PondsHave you ever tried to go on a fun, easy run with your kids but they are so much faster than you that they leave you in the dust almost instantly? That happens to me to a regular basis. By my calculations, my daughter is about 25% faster than me per mile. We have similar endurance so we can both run for the same amount of time without having to stop and walk but she can go farther in that time frame.

Run Loops

The easiest way to run with a much faster runner is to have them run loops around you. Choose a place with long open roads where we can see each other for a 100 to 200 yards at a time. Let the faster runners move ahead for a comfortable distance then have them turn around and run back to you. Keep running loops until you reach the end of the run. If your younger runners are not sure when to turn pick landmarks, such as every five houses or every 20 house numbers. Over time, you will each learn the best places to run the loops and make your turns.

Run Circles
Another great place to run with faster runners is around ponds baseball fields or on a track. When you are all confined to a similar small circle, it is easy to see each other and to stay close. Just don’t be shocked when your kids lap you over and over. 🙂

Run Hills
If you are really in for a punishing run, find a small hill and run laps up and down. Hills are a great place for fun runs because you can make a game out of who can complete the most laps or quickest time up the slope.

Where do you like to run with your kids or other running partners who are faster than you?

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Ice can be a Runner’s Best Friend

Ice with textNo matter how long you’ve been running – one day or many years, you are bound to have sore, tired or strained muscles. If you find yourself limping around or having trouble walking, I have one word for you: ICE. And lots of it.

You don’t need to have any injury to use ice to help your muscles recover between runs. Put a bag of crushed ice on sore or strained muscles for 20 to 30 minutes at least once per day. You can even ice up to every hour, as necessary. The ice helps reduce any swelling and pain in the muscle. Here is a great article about muscle strains that discusses the use of ice to help heal. When you are feeling sore or strained and ice does not make your muscles feel better combined with rest, see a doctor to make sure that your injury is not severe.

If you don’t have small ice cubes or crushed ice, bags of small vegetables like peas or corn work great for icing sore muscles. My kids prefer bags of peas. I usually buy large bags of peas and split them up into heavy-duty zipper bags. You can use these bags over and over (just don’t accidentally eat them!)

Sometimes I will use ice to prepare for a long run or a 5K race. I’m not sure if it helps me run faster or longer but it does make my legs feel good on the runs especially when I’m trying to keep up with a much younger and faster runner. Don’t forget that resting your muscles between runs or when you are feeling sore, tired or strained is also important to feeling your best.

So the next time your muscles feel sore, tired or strained, try sitting around with a bag of ice or frozen peas while you rest. You will feel better soon!

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Don’t Fear the Long Run

Running Trail Image w TextMost running programs have a long run one day each week. Try to pick a day for your long run when you have a little more free time like a weekend or when the kids are at school or a play date.

When you first start looking at some of these training programs as a new runner, the idea of running 5, 6 or 7 miles seems impossible. It did, and still does, to me some days. But one thing to remember is that your long runs don’t have to be that long. They should just be longer than your other training runs at first. There are several ways to increase your long run days so you are certain to find a method that works for you.

Slowly Increase Your Distance
When you start running, only increase your mileage about 10% each week. I’ve found that one of the easy ways to do that, especially when you have limited time for your workouts, is to add distance to my long run. When I started running, I increased my long runs by 0.25 to 0.50 miles each week. It wasn’t much but over time, I was able to add a couple of miles to my long run.

Slowly Increase Your Time
Another way to think about your long runs is by time rather than distance. Instead of telling yourself that you have to run five miles on your long run, think about running for a certain number of minutes. For example, if you run for 15 to 20 minutes most days, try to run for 30 to 40 minutes on your long run day.

The Walk-Run-Walk Plan
If running double the distance or time on your long runs days is too hard, add short bursts of walking into the workout. Just being up on your legs for the longer period of time will help increase your strength and endurance. You can add these walking sections by alternating a 30 second walk with a 30 second run. Over time, increase the intervals to a one minute walk and a one minute run. Eventually, you will find that you can increase your run time as you add to your distance.

Good luck and keep rocking your long runs!



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Top 3 Free Websites for New Runners

Top_3_Free_SitesIf you are anything like me, when you start something new you scour the internet looking for websites to help you figure out what you are doing. Over the past year, I have found three websites that I use a lot when planning a run. I think you will find these helpful too.

1. What to Wear from Runner’s World – This website is a must when you have changing weather conditions and you are a relatively new runner. I just love this site because you input the current temperature, wind and weather conditions, time of day, what type of run you are doing (long run, easy run, speed, etc.) and if you want to feel warm, cool or in between and the site tells you what to wear. I actually have this site bookmarked on my phone too. In my experience, the website is right on the money every time. You don’t realize how much you heat up when you run or just how cold that wind is on your skin so this web app is perfect.

2. Pace Calculator from Cool Running – This site is great after you race or go on a run. Especially if your watch doesn’t give splits easily or you, um, well, forget to charge it and the battery dies mid-race. Not that I would ever let that happen… Moving on, this site is very handy because you input your time and distance and it will calculate your average pace. It is also cool because if you are trying to lower your time and hit a specific pace target, you can use it to calculate your finish time at different paces.

3. Training Paces from Runner’s World – This simple calculator helps you determine what your pace should be on different training runs. All you do is input a recent race time and the distance of the race and it calculates what your training paces should be for easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, speed form, maximum oxygen and Yasso 800s. I haven’t tried maximum oxygen or Yasso 800 workouts but for the other four types of training runs, the calculator has been right on what I can hold during the workouts.

Give these sites a try and see what you think. If you have any other fun, free resources that other runners might like to know about post them in the comments below or send me a private message so I can pass along the websites.

Until next time, keep rocking your runs!

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My First 5K Race after Training for Just 29 Days

mimosa-Large w textAfter too long of a hiatus, I’m back in the running game. As I mentioned in previous posts, I had to take a month off of exercise completely after my surgery in late October. By the time I was able to start exercising again it was Thanksgiving so I really didn’t get started in earnest until December. My surgery was laparoscopic but the doctor did still have to make three incisions in my abs. That was not much fun and it made me nervous when I started running and doing core exercises again. The first few weeks were a little slow because I mixed a lot of walking in with the running.

Christmas week was my first week where I ran consistently usually five to six days a week. I still didn’t run very far without having to stop. In fact, it was 29 days from my first “for real” training run until my first 5K back in the swing of things and I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to make the entire race without walking. I don’t think I’d gone more than 1.0 to 1.5 miles without stopping in the past month.

The Race

I ran the Shrimp & Grits 5K this past Saturday which is associated with the Charleston Marathon. If you haven’t been to this race, you really should try. They have a full marathon, half marathon and a 5K. The vendors at the finish of the race were awesome and in addition to the standard beer for runners they gave out shrimp & grits and mimosas! There was also a coffee company, cheese company, apple growers and a company that made super awesome humus. They were giving out full tubs of humus to the runners. There were a bunch of other vendors with running gear and every accessory imaginable for runners. I will definitely run that race again next year.

How I Did

The race was fun and a little cold but I didn’t run very well. It was actually my first 5K in over a year and I was about 2.5 minutes off of my time. Last time, I ran a 30:13 and this time…well, you can do the math. Okay 32:45. Sniff. Sniff. Even though I was slow, I didn’t stop at all. Yay me! My average pace was a 10:32 mile. My first mile was under 10 minutes but my second mile was about a 10:43 so that means that my last mile was decent in comparison. I need to work on that second mile. That was slow.

What’s Next

My next race is another 5K in February on Valentine’s weekend. I have four weeks to work on my second mile and to force myself to STOP WALKING when I run. If you have any tips on how to keep your feet from stopping and walking, I’d love to hear it. Hit me up in the comments or email me.

Until next time, keep rocking your runs!

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How to Start Running Again After a Long Break

Start Running AgainIn October, I had to take an unexpected break from running. I had surgery to remove a benign cyst that was big and just wouldn’t go away. One of the nurses suggested that I name it Lucifer because it was so mean and stubborn. Regardless of my whining that I did not want to have the surgery, my doctor convinced me that I needed to and so after a lot of complaining on my part, I finally had the procedure.

Before the surgery, I ran as much as I could and did tons of core exercises in hopes that it would make the recovery faster and easier. I had to stop exercise (except for really slow walking) for four weeks after the surgery but after everything healed I was able to go back to running. I was finally cleared to run about two weeks ago. I started slowly at first with a good mix of walking and running. I was running on a track so I started alternating with walking 200 meters then running 200 meters. The first day I only last about 10 minutes before I had to switch to just walking. Each time I exercised, it got a little better and I worked my way up to walking 400 meters then running 400 meters. After about a week and a half, I am able to run for 20 to 30 minutes with only a little bit of walking. I can tell that I am slower though…if that is really possible. I wasn’t very fast to begin with.

Here is a breakdown of my first two weeks of running:

  • Day 1: 10 minutes alternating walk 200 meters, run 200 meters. Walk 10 minutes cool down.
  • Day 2: 15 minutes alternating walk 400 meters, run 400 meters. Walk 10 minutes cool down.
  • Day 3: Sporadic running around my daughter’s cross country meet
  • Day 4: 2 mile easy run and walk mix
  • Day 5: 20 minute Farklet’s
  • Day 6: 20 minute run on hills
  • Day 7: Sporadic running around my daughter’s cross country meet
  • Day 8: 4 mile run easy
  • Day 9: 25 minute tempo run
  • Day 10: 2.8 miles easy

The moral of my story is that if you have to take a month off of exercise. Start back slowly. A month will seriously impact your speed and endurance but it will come back…eventually.

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Getting Back Into My Runs After a 5 Week Break

Girl runner w headphonesAt the beginning of the summer, I was doing great. Running five days per week while my daughter was at swim team practice. I felt good even though I had never run five days in a row…ever…in my life. I did it for at least a month straight. My one piece of advice though, if you want to try to bump up your running days, do it in the winter. South Carolina summers are HOT and HUMID!

After my kids finished track season and my daughter finished swim team, we took a little well-deserved (in my opinion) break from running. I did a some video workouts like I mentioned in a previous post and then I found out that I had a cyst and needed to take a longer break from exercise while it healed. No problem. I can take a break. It was even nice…at first. Then I got bored.

Today I went on my first run in about five weeks and it was fun. There is a road about one mile from our house that is typically fully covered by shade. I did my normal warmup routine then walked to the shady road, ran about 2.3 miles then walked the mile back home. Overall, I hit about 4.3 miles on my feet, which my Garmin Vivofit just loved because I recorded over 9,630 steps.

I’m going to try another short run tomorrow but longer than the 2.3 run today. As the days get a little cooler, I plan to get back into running four to five days every week. Even if I only hit 15 to 20 miles each week, I should be in good shape for the Reindeer Run 5K in December.

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Setting a New Time Goal for Fall 5Ks

New 5K Goal Time _ imageSo far in my brief running career I’ve run two 5Ks and one 10K. I really liked both distances but I think that I can actually train to get faster at 5Ks given the amount of time I have to run. Last fall I ran two 5Ks and my best time was 30:13. This year, my new goal is 28:00. Here is the breakdown for the pace of last year’s 5K (roughly):

2014 Best:

1 Mile Pace: 9:43
2 Mile Pace: 19:27
3 Mile Pace: 29:10
3.1 Mile Finish: 30:13
Average Per Mile Pace: 9:43

For my new goal of a 28:00 minute 5K, I’ll have to run 9:00 minute miles. Here are the splits I’ll need to hold:

2015 Goal:

1 Mile Pace: 9:00
2 Mile Pace: 18:01
3 Mile Pace: 27:02
3.1 Mile Finish: 28:00
Average Per Mile Pace: 8:41

I don’t have a schedule for any 5Ks yet because some of it will depend on my kid’s cross country schedule but I am hoping to run one in September, October and December.

Do you have a goal for your fall 5Ks?


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Side Pain was Kicking My Butt and Stopping My Runs

Last weekend I started having some pain in my side. It felt like I was getting a cramp in my right side just below my ribcage. It was just a twinge now and then on Sunday. I had taken a few days off running so I thought that it was just a reaction to my lack of exercise for the previous couple of days. To test my theory, I woke up on Monday morning and worked out to my Jillian Michaels “30 Day Shred” video.

I really like this video. It has three levels and each level gets progressively more difficult but I’ve found that each level works your body overall but concentrates on areas a little differently.  You can add hand weights to Level 1 to make it just as hard as Levels 2 and 3 so I like to rotate between the levels. On Monday, I did Level 1 without any additional weights to see how my side was feeling and after the workout it felt pretty good. But that feeling did not last for long.

Later that day my side was hurting again. Overnight, it got worse and by the morning I decided to have it checked out. After a couple of quick checks I found out that I had a cyst that would eventually go away on its own but my side was going to hurt on and off until it did.

After a week of sitting, I’m feeling fine and ready to get back to running. But before I do, I’m going to get back into my workouts with my Jillian Michaels video and some swimming.

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