Just a couple tips on getting a 5k PR

By no means do I think I’m an expert at the 5k. However, I’m pretty proud of myself for that 43 second PR that I had Friday night & I’ve had a few people ask HOW I did it, so I wanted to share a couple of things with you. 

Being that a 5k is only 3.1 miles-it doesn’t seem very fair that it can truly be the hardest PR to break. When you really sit down to think about it, it makes sense. It’s really easy to have the idea in your mind that you’re going to just “book it” the whole entire time until you get to the finish line. In reality-booking it for those 3.1 little miles isn’t all that easy. I truly would rather run a marathon than a 5k. It’s just so damn hard because you’re going so fast! Whether your “fast” is a sub 6 minute mile, or a sub 10 minute mile-the effort level is the same. It’s a challenge! Plus you have less time to make up for the seconds/minutes you lose from things like fiddling with your music, or going up a killer hill, or whatever else is slowing you down. 

These are some of the things that helped me to get a PR!

1. Be diligent with your speed work and do the hard work. I’m really good at keeping up with regular track work and tempo runs. I’m getting more comfortable at holding those uncomfortable paces. I know that improvements in my speedwork carryover into every aspect of my running. Do weekly speed work and you will see improvements, too.

2. Knowing the course. This helped tremendously. I ran this race last year and I remembered every single thing about that route, including the fact that the last mile is completely downhill. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and set my sights on this race to break my 5k pr. 

3. Know your strengths & your weaknesses. I love this 5k course because the last mile is 100% downhill! I excel at coasting downhill! Some people take it easy going downhill, but I tend to go all out on them. I knew when I hit mile 3 that it was time to push it because I was almost there, dammit! It also helps to know your weaknesses:if you hate hills and running in direct sunlight, don’t pick a course chock full of hills that starts at 10:00 when it’s just beginning to be ridic hot outside. Everybody’s different& you’ve got to pick a race that feels right for you. 

4. Focus. I tried very hard to stay “in” the mile I was in. It’s not easy to do, especially if you’re doing a “booking it” pace. I swore, almost cried, and wanted to quit a billion times. I kept myself going though and tried to think ONLY about very small victories-like making it past the people who were handing out water. It was some really fast baby steps to get me the 3.1 miles, let me tell you! 

5. Mantra’s & Music: Two things that helped me tremendously! I kept repeating the word “PR” over and over in my brain. I still wanted to throw in the towel. But, before I could quit, I told myself that “I CAN DO HARD THINGS.” This kept me going! 

Music also saved me. I was so freaking tired by the time that mile 3 hit. I think I was halfway through it and about to cry when “Eye of the Tiger” came over my headphones! Talk about a stroke of luck! I couldn’t quit-I was running with Rocky for gosh sakes!

6. Not placing a whole lot of pressure on myself. I wanted to do well, & I wanted to PR. But if I didn’t-I knew that I was at least running a race with my friend, and that was a pretty great thing. I was 100% okay with not hitting a pr. It just so happens that I did get one, but I really removed the pressure from myself and just rolled with it. Above all-I wanted to have fun! I don’t know if this attitude helped me get it, but I would like to think that it did! 

I hope these little tips help you, and feel free to share some of your own tips that have helped you better your 5k time!


22 thoughts on “Just a couple tips on getting a 5k PR

  1. Marathon over a 5K any day (and I’m only just training for my first marathon)! Focus, like you said, is SO important – worrying about the miles ahead is only going to waste mental energy.

  2. Great post! Just got a huge 5k PR myself 2 weeks ago and agree with staying in the mile you are in. For me, it’s all mental. I just kept chanting “you got this” to myself. I did two training cycles and put in the speedwork, hills etc so race day was really just up to my mental game. Also, which 5k is this with the downhill mile 3?! I’m in MA. I might have to add it to my list lol. Nothing like looking like a rock star coming into the chute.

  3. This was a great time for me to read since I have a 5k Sunday night. I like….”stay β€œin” the mile I was in”. That hit me and I will definitely get my mindset to this thought process. As well as PR PR PR. My PR is 7:15…want to shave that down and been on the track killing myself once a week. I am confident it will pay off. Thanks for the tips. πŸ™‚

  4. Best tip you mentioned is one I always tell my friends who are looking to get faster “get comfortable being uncomfortable”… running fast is not easy. By being accustomed to the feeling of discomfort, we actually allow our bodies to push through and continue on at a sustained effort.

  5. Great tips! I love having a downhill at the end of a race. It really even just helps me mentally to know its there. I definitely need to work on my focus in the 5k! I tend to get into a really negative mindset when things start to hurt. But I just need to remember that of course its going to hurt to run 3 miles at such a hard pace!

    • It’s not easy, and I’ve never focused on JUST a 5k. I’m always running them as a part of marathon training. I think it would be difficult to focus on only speed training-it’s running LESS mileage and i like to run ALOT! That would be hard!!:)

  6. Great tips – and while it seems like common sense it is anything but! Like right now it is ~7 months since I did my 5K where I got the 7 minute PR. I know I have more speed in me, but although I am running 60 miles per week I am not doing the things that would get me to a guaranteed PR … at least not in the 5K. Half marathon? Could probably PR this weekend without much thought … πŸ˜‰

  7. It’s true: the shorter runs are soo much harder. At speed, 5k are veeery long, however. I guess it has got to do with that comfort zone thing. Thank you for your post and well done for pushing through.

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