What takes marathon runners to run 5,000m on track successfully? I’ve done some speed training this spring for 5K and 10K races I am running this summer. Intervals on track, hill workouts, and squats and other exercises in the gym. Maybe my expectations has been too high, but I am not liking the results so far this summer. I did not PR in 10K at Pride Run, and neither at the World Masters yesterday in 5,000m. All this speed training and racing short distance is to improve marathon time, but it would be great too if I saw some improvement in 5K and 10K times.
Going into the race yesterday, my conditions were pretty good. No injuries nor muscle tightness. I was very relaxed. I was well hydrated: It was hot in Sacramento. The only conditioning problem, if it affected me at all, was that I ate a burrito (with no cheese!) three hours before the race and it was still heavy in my stomach when I was running. It would not have been a problem at all if I was running a marathon, because the pace would be much slower, but I could not help but wonder if that could have made any differences.
In terms of racing, however, there is much more to learn how to race 5,000m. In Köln, I ran 18:32 and it was a rather close race with a good pace. It was also my first 5,000m race and I did not have nothing to lose or no expectations. I was leading the pack with 90 seconds/lap until 4,000m or so when a Seattle Front Runner took off. Then, I could not follow him, but I had only 2 and a half laps to go. By then, I was in a good shape to finish in a time I was happy with. Yesterday, in contrast, the competition was much harder, and I simply let those guys take off from the get go. I ran the first 800m in 2 minutes and 50 seconds, which was my target pace, but my pace was down to 90 seconds/lap after that. Looking back, I could have followed the closest runner a bit longer to keep 85 seconds/lap pace. I don’t know if that would have been a better strategy or not. I might have not been able to maintain the pace very long and risked a significant slow-down later in the race. Is this something I need to learn by running many 5,000m races? If that is the case, I am afraid I won’t know my full potential, because 5,000m (or 10K for that matter) is not my specialty.
I have two more 5,000m races and one more 10K race. I suppose I can try to run more aggressively next time and see if such strategy works or not. I know it did not work for 10K in Pride Run, but 5,000m on track? I guess I won’t know until I really try. So, that is my strategy in Vancouver Outgames 5,000m.
Oh, by the way, my time yesterday was 18:46. It was 27th out of 36 competitors in my age group. It was the first among all Japanese competitors (I was the only one!), which makes me a national champion, according to my track teammate Aaron. Thanks for pointing that out, Aaron!