How Beginner Runners Can Run a Faster 5K

So you've done your first 5K and now you're determined to beat your 5K PR (personal record). The good news is that many beginner runners run faster 5Ks after their initial one because they feel a lot more confident the second time around. Here are some tips to make sure you do run a faster 5K:

Run faster for some runs.

Running downhill
Mike Harrington

For your first 5K, you may have done all your training runs at the same speed but, to run faster in your race, it helps to incorporate faster running into your training. A good way to do that is with tempo runs. To do a tempo run, start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running near your 10K pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you're not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard."

Also see: 8 Rules for Speed Training

Be consistent.

Running in the rain
John Kelly

When it comes to your training, consistency is key. I know plenty of runners who sign up for a 5K, forget about it, and then run like mad in the two weeks leading up to the race. You can't cram for a 5K. It's important that you start to prepare at least four weeks ahead of time; eight weeks is even better. And you need to stick to the training and make sure you're running at least 3 days a week.

Also see: 4-Week 5K Training Schedule
8-Week 5K Training Schedule

Be prepared.

Woman on computer
Knowing what to expect on the course can help you run the race smarter and more confidently. Take a look at the course map online so you know if there are any hills or other challenges. If it's a local race, do some of your runs on the course so it becomes familiar.

Being prepared also means running in your race day outfit before the race, so you're not trying anything new on race day.

Have a pre-race routine.

Runners stretching before race
Gary John Norman

Before you head to the starting line, make sure you hit the porta-potty so you don't have to waste time stopping to use one during the race. You can also do a little warm-up (an easy jog for a few minutes) to get the blood flowing and your muscles warmed-up. Take a few sips of water so you're hydrated. That should allow you to skip the first water stop, which will save you time.

Having pre-race rituals will not only help you save time during the race, but the familiar routine can also help you ease your pre-race anxiety.

Race smart.

5k start
Getty Images

It's possible to shave some seconds or maybe even minutes off your finishing time with smart racing strategies, such as making sure you don't start out too fast. Try some of these strategies for running faster races.

Finish strong.

Woman Running Across Finish Line
Yellow Dog Productions

As you get closer to the finish line, there's no holding back -- if you feel good, go for it. Keep pumping your arms and looking up. Try to focus on runners in front of you and see if you can pass them before the finish line. You may feel some discomfort, but crossing that finish line and seeing that you beat your time will make it all worth it.

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