Any Advice On Trying To PB In A 5K?

Good Morning Friends!

I am racing a 5k on Tuesday evening. It’s not an event I’m used to and I am wondering what your experiences are and what advice you may be willing to share.

The 5k distance is tough for me to get and maintain speed. Moreover, as my marathon race pace is about a minute per kilometre slower than my 5k race pace, I find it hard to even gauge how my 5k pace should feel. I’m very adapted to running at marathon race pace and I know instinctively how it feels. But getting a feel for how a 5k race pace is a bit of a struggle. Often I find myself going out way too fast or way too slowly. I am very much adapted to longer distances, and this is my preference. But I still would love to post a PB on Tuesday.

Help me out? What works for you? What are your stories?

Thanks everyone! Wish me luck 😃



  1. In a way, I hate the 5k. They hurt. A lot. My approach is just to go as fast as I can and try to hang on to the finish. Not the most scientific of approaches.

    You will have to keep a close eye on your Garmin. Pick a pace and stick with it. If you have anything left in the tank at 4km then gun it.

    Options are 1) look at the pace for your last PR and shave 5 seconds off/km. this leaves no room for error.

    2) Use a calculator to figure out what your theoretical PR should be based on your other distance results. This is a leap of faith since it would assume that you have trained for this distance. Here’s a link…

    1. Thanks Raymond! I’m gonna see what I can do 🙂 Interestingly, the first calculator generated an average prediction time that is precisely 1 second slower than my current PB. *sigh* LOL (I couldn’t get the 2nd calculator to work).

      1. The second calculator is the one I used, but I haven’t been able to get it to work lately. Using my 1 mile PB, my 5k, 10k and HM PB times are within a few seconds of predicted. My 10 mile and FM are way off. It tells me that I should have a big opportunity at a PB in the 10 mile (the marathon predicted time is another issue entirely). The calculator tells me that there is no room for improvement on your 5k PB. However, your training has changed dramatically and your old PBs may not be relevant. I would try to shave 5-10/k off your PB pace (or, look at your speed work that you have done with your group. Do you have a lightning fast 800m? If so, plug it in and see what 5k pace it gives you and use that). If you get a PB, then use it to see what your new predicted marathon time would be…

      2. I wouldn’t use those PB’s. And I’m not one for hearing that there is no room for improvement. I’ve trained much faster in short distances not listed on that stat sheet of mine 😃

  2. shawnasob · · Reply

    My pb 5k advice which I have field tested includes 3 cupcakes from “The Social Cupcake.” in Mississauga’s Port Credit (lakeshore just west of Hurontario on the south side) Eat these in race day. Then run like hell, your lungs should burn. And take your own advice. Run hard to that bench now run hard to that light pole etc. Tell yourself the faster you run the sooner it will be over. Try to keep it smooth and find a rhythm and then have a celebratory cupcake for afterwards. They even have mini cupcakes so you can mix it up. Seriously go get some cupcakes.

    1. LOL! Thanks Shawn. I’ll look out for that shop. But maybe not for the actual race. I am already feeling every ounce of excess body weight as I try to fire away at my speed and wonder how much faster I could be if I was just a couple of pounds lighter. How is RFTS going for you?

      1. shawnasob · ·

        Rfts is going great…still managing to get my miles in each day…have you listened to any of the podcasts?

      2. Glad to hear!!! Actually I haven’t been listening. Anything in particular I should be sure to listen to?

      3. shawnasob · ·

        Well just all the shows about rfts…you get to hear how all the participants from around the world are doing…you get a mention as well!

      4. A couple of pounds lighter?? Buddy, how much weight have you lost this last year? Lose any more and you’d be blown away by nervous gassy racers farting at the start line.

  3. I haven’t ran a marathon so I cannot give you any advice but I can surely wish you all the best 🙂

    1. Thanks Nandini! I will gladly and gratefully accept all the well wishes you care to send my way 🙂

  4. Get to a track and run some intervals with a stopwatch. This should help you to gauge what each pace feels like. My coach says one mile pace should be 95% effort and 5k around 85% effort, but with all your experience you may be able to push that a little higher. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Paul! That’s a very good suggestion. Running by feel and using percentages may be my best bet. Going out between 85-90% (I know I’ll want to push as you may have guessed) and cranking it up in the final 500 metres if I have it in me sounds like a great approach.

      How often would you check your pace in a 5k race? And if you’re off your goal pace by running by feel, do you adjust your pace or continue to race by feel? If I’m ahead of pace, I risk burnout if I don’t adjust. If I’m behind then I sacrifice a shot at a PB if I don’t adjust.

      1. I don’t race often enough to be able to give that advice, Rod. I think that, with practice, you get a feel for what pace you are at, but I also will get caught up in a moment and go too hard. That’s part of the training; recognise and react.

      2. Thanks Paul 😃

  5. Good luck on the run Rod!!! I’ve not figured out how to run them yet. I just try and run slightly faster then my normal (whatever that is) pace and at the 4k push it in to overdrive.

  6. Hi Rod, what a crazy weekend – Zhenjiang to Shanghai to Singapore to Paris to Reims to home sweet home in Metz. Anyway…
    My highly unprofessional technique for tackling the 5K is to do the first 3km at cruise control (effort level 6/10) then shift gears to let’s-take-down-as-many-other-runners-as-possible for the next 1.5km (effort level 8/10) and for the last 500m it’s when my mind goes blank, and run so hard that my bowels twist, my face turns beet red and I almost always want to puke by the end (effort level out-of-body-experience). Probably not the smartest way but as a long distance runner I generally tend to be stuck on plod mode until the final stretch (helps to promise yourself pizza or fudge ice cream etc if you set a new PB).
    Good luck!

    1. You are definitely peripatetic! Welcome home NT 😃

      And thank you for sharing your race strategy. Given that you recently PB’d at this distance you are far more qualified than you let on 😃

      I am just finishing an amazing book called “Older Faster Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, Longer”. There’s a passage where the author describes a friend of hers and her preparedness for a race in this way:

      “Mary is on track for a personal-best time, and in the head space she should be in to race: focused on giving her all but prepared to accept what her body can do on this day.”

      I like this passage and will try for this mental state tomorrow 😃

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: