The 5k: The Scariest distance there is!

I get so nervous about 5k’s!! Isn’t that weird? I don’t get very nervous for a full marathon and I look forward to the challenge! But 5k’s cause me to lose sleep, give myself a stomach ache, and basically freak myself the heck out all over 3.19 miles. I think I would feel differently about the 5k if I had grown up a speedy runner who worked her way up from the 5k to the marathon. Instead—> I am the weirdo who’s first race was a marathon…and then worked BACKWARDS. (who does that???)

Anyways. I ran a 5k Tuesday night. I’ve been itching to get back into a solid routine of weekly speedwork. I did the Good Times race series that is in downtown Lowell. This is a great race series for runners of all levels. You can choose to register for the entire series (they have a spring series and a summer series), or you can pay for one race at a time. And the cost is pretty cheap- $15!!! The races are run out of a bar…I think all runners like this! It’s really a great time and it’s packed with people! They typically give awards to the top in each AG as well as the overall male/female. And if you hit a new PR, you get a “miley” award. They have some really fun incentives for runners!

For me, I like the series because it’s really close to my house. I like the idea of getting some speedwork in on a course I can run weekly and see improvements. The 5k is NOT a distance I excel at. I would like to go back in time and smack the old Nicole who scoffed at 5k’s because the distance was “too short for her daily runs.” Stupid, uninformed runner! If you are racing a 5k-than you are pushing your body to its limits. I don’t care if your race pace is a 4 minute mile, or a 15 minute mile-the effort on your part is the same. AND IT HURTS. Speedwork in the form of those 5 kilometers is a b****. I’ve only ever raced 2 (now 3) 5ks. And man they are tough!!

I’ve been making myself a mental checklist for the things I need to do next week:
-Line up more in the front, if not the very front. I was a lot further back than I thought I was and it was hard to bob and weave. I’m not the biggest fan of that!
(I have on a blue headband, sunglasses, and blue tank-All you can see is my little head and a bit of my top….I’m about 7ish people-rows back from the front)

-I need to learn to dominate the second mile and not “just get through it”. I do not like mile 2!!!! It’s the toughest one!!! I really get in my own head, the waaahbulance gets fired up and I think to myself “I can’t do it! I’ll never get faster!” and of course, my fave–“When will this freaking be over??” The second mile on this course feels long- you are going from bridge to bridge and there aren’t any turns or twists-its a straight shot and it feels like it never ends!!! I think I swore off 5ks at least 10 different times during Mile 2.

-Don’t forget to take your GU Nicole! I meant to take it 10-15 minutes before. Whoops.

Things that worked:

-I warmed up and cooled down beforehand. Patting myself on the back now for that! I think the warm up helped loosen me up a LOT since I was still sore from my 16 mile run on Sunday. By the time I was through with the warmup, I felt a lot better. The cool down was great too. My muscles thanked me for letting them run a wee bit longer.

-I picked off people one by one. I would hold their pace, and when I knew I could take them-I would pass them by.
My goal is to get down to a 19:xx 5k soon, and then see how I feel after that. I know that I need to get even more “comfortable” being “uncomfortable” because 5ks are anything but “comfy”. They are hard work. This was my first solid effort at a 5k since August of 2014, so I’m pretty happy with my result of 21:03. 13 seconds off of my PR. I was 3rd woman overall and 22 finisher out of 378 runners.     (Splits: I started my watch exactly when the race started, not when I crossed the start line)

Some fun & random facts for you:

-My playlist. I made it 38 minutes long to include any little hiccups and also my cooldown miles.(and I made it longer because I like variety and i like to be surprised at what song is coming on next!) thanks to everyone on my FB & my IG who gave me some awesome song choices! “Guts over Fear” came on at EXACTLY the right time. Some dude was trying to pass me–All i needed was Sia’s gorgeous voice singing to me telling I had Guts and NOT Fear…And before i knew it, that dude was in the rearview 😉

-I have learned that (most) men do not like when a girl beats them. And, They like it even LESS when the girl is in a skirt. Just a little fun fact! I am going to keep wearing my skirts while racing! Not only are they adorable, they are sassy, I feel cute, and I like beating boys whilst wearing a skirt! Sidenote...I don’t mean to sound sexist!

-The run the day AFTER a 5k is just not fun. Not fun at ALL. I could barely hold an 8:30 pace….my “fastest” mile was an 8:09 mile! Its crazy what a good race effort can do to your legs/body!

And that is where I leave you today! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m really sorry at my extremely sporadic posting patterns of late–> My seniors have their LAST WEEK of school next week and i’ve been pretty busy with school/life lately and haven’t had much time to post! I promise to be a much better running blogger come the end of May!

What is the scariest distance to you?


34 thoughts on “The 5k: The Scariest distance there is!

  1. I started running in January and used the 5k as my first race. I chose this distance since I ran this distance for time as the Marine Corps physical fitness test some 30 years ago. I am comfortable with this distance and hope to regain the form at 51 that I ran at 19. I ran them at the 17 min mark then. Now I am at 23:24. Long way to go! And I am one of those guys who tries to be ahead of all females…though I don’t get mad if I don’t. Just inspired. Good Luck on any future 5k to reaching 19 minutes. 🙂 I am slowly on my way to a half.

    • Thank you! Best of luck to you on regaining that speed…that’s pretty incredible! A 17 minute 5k blows my mind! Maybe someday….
      The half distance is my favorite distance! It’s speedy but not an all out sprint like a 5k is, and not as long as a marathon!! Good luck to you!

  2. The only thing I like about 5ks is that they are over quickly! But in general they are SO hard and I am always so nervous at the starting line! I ran my first 5k about 4 years ago after I had already some several half marathons and I had no idea how I would do because I had never run faster than 8 minute miles. Right now I am scared just thinking about running a 5k pace!

  3. I used to start at the back and pick them off as well. You could take a good amount of time off by starting up twds the front. I learned my lesson after a couple races. You kick ass no matter your time! I love reading your posts!

  4. 5Ks are definitely the scariest distance for me as well. There’s no making up for bad miles like there is in a half or marathon! I haven’t done a 5k since my first race seven years ago and every time one comes up I’m like, nope, I’m going to do a long run instead.

  5. If you’re going to all out race a 5k then heck yes that’s scary! Probably why I haven’t done it in over 2 years? It just never seems like the right time…

    10ks are similar I think, but longer. At some point the stars will align and I’ll have a season of just 5 and 10ks!

  6. I am actually terrified to run a 5K – I think because I was never very athletic and was always the very slowest and worst runner when I was little, and in my head I equate the 5k with running AS FAST AS YOU CAN which for me is probably still not very fast and the idea of it is terrifying. My first race was a half marathon and I’ve actually never run anything shorter, I just moved on to marathons and ultras from there. Anyway awesome job!!

  7. I 100% agree!! 5k’s are the hardest distance! I feel like I can go so much faster than I actually can because it’s short and end up wanting to die by mile 2 or 3.

  8. i HATE HATE HATE 5ks (unless they are in a triathlon). i would do another ironman over a 5k. having to push yourself to and over the brink of pain is just not my thing! i hated the 5k i ran 2 weeks ago. way to push yourself and pass all those MEN 😉 and congrats on 3rd place!

  9. It’s not weird. 5Ks scare me too. It’s probably why I rarely run them. I usually feel very confident going into half and even full marathons but no matter how much speed work I do, I just never feel confident going into a 5K. The last one I did was back in November and I thought I’d be in such great shape to beat my 4 month old PR since I’d recently run a marathon…but I missed it by over a minute and it was very discouraging.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that there is always a sense of accomplishment when you finish a marathon, no matter how long it takes. But since the 5K is more inherently competitive and it’s something you can do way more often, it’s more deflating to miss out on a goal time.

    • I completely agree with you! There is such a sense of accomplishment after a marathon…not that there isn’t with a 5k-but its a completely different sense!

      Missing a recent PR or a goal is SOOO HARD!! this has happened to me before, feels awful!

  10. Your time is amazing! At 21 minutes, I’m just finishing mile 2 in a 5K. At this point, anything over 10 miles scares me. I think the 10K distance is my fave – solid hour of running and I don’t feel like I’m going to die after the run.

  11. I swear, the shorter the distance the more nervous I get. I get the most aggressive butterflies for short races! Haha. We have very similar goals this spring/summer season. I’ve signed up for my local run clubs series, racing distances building up from 1.5 miles to 10 miles every weekend this summer. I think learning to push my self for shorter distances will only improve my overall long distance speed! Congrats on being so speedy lady!!

  12. 5K was DEFINITELY my scariest … it was the first race I ever ran – in 2012 at 46, and really the first time I ever ‘exposed myself’ running in front of others. I ran a few within a month and then moved on to half and full marathons.

    By then, like you say, I was already running an average of 7+ miles per day, so why bother with more 5ks. Of course I *knew* that it would be a very different experience, it just didn’t happen for me in terms of schedule. Until last December.

    And I was totally nervous … what if I didn’t PR? That was my #1 fear. I knew I’d come so far in 2.5 years, but what if I didn’t make a time I was proud of? What if I pushed too hard and got hurt?

    Ugh …. in the end I broke my old 5K PR by over 7 minutes, had an awesome experience, wore silly Christmas stuff, and it was just totally awesome. 🙂

    Congrats on your race!

    • I can’t believe you broke your old PR by SEVEN MINUTES! That is really something, Michael! I think in the back of my mind that I always “hold back” a tiny bit because getting hurt is something I do NOT want to happen.

      i love the silly races where I get to wear fun “themed” articles of personal fave is the 4th of July themed races! I love wearing my American flag running clothes!!

  13. Wonderful article! I can completely relate to this. There is so much pressure on a 5K vs. a longer distance. It is exciting, but EVERY second counts. I am impressed with your time considering you just transitioned from a marathon! Awesome job. I am looking forward to checking out your playlist!

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