Since you are not a professional runner you have doubtless been told over and over again that you should run against yourself and do the best you can without worrying about how other runners are doing. That’s fair enough because as an amateur runner your main interest is normally in keeping fit and the enjoyment you derive from running. But lets face it, man is a competitive animal and we all want to outshine others when we can. This is never more true that in a race when the race results are a generally accepted measure of success or the lack of it. You may be a weekend or occasional jogger who decides to enter a 5K Training just to see how your performance level compares with others of your age group. If you are 50 years old and finish in the middle of the other people of your age who are in the race, you should be satisfied with your 5k race result. The problem lies in the fact that while its nice to know that you are as good as your peers, you can’t help wishing that you could outperform them and rather than finishing the race in the midst of 50 year olds you could do it among the 40 year olds. People tend to think about being at that age and feeling so great and young?
Pushing yourself and your body too hard is not just foolish but also dangerous and you could do yourself serious harm. If you want to improve your 5K times and still take some of those things into consideration then there are a few things that can be done.
The most common method of improving your timing is to practice tempo running. This simply means maintaining an even pace (or tempo) throughout your run. Start with 1k and run it at a pace that brings you to the threshold of exhaustion at the end of it. Knowing when you have reached your threshold is important – overdo it and you could hurt yourself. When you muscles ache and your breathing becomes labored, you have passed your threshold. Once your have established a maximum pace for 1k, start gradually extending the distance (without letting your pace drop) – remembering again not to cross the threshold. Keep doing this until you are running the full 5K Training as fast as you can. This is you maximum pace and will give you the best 5k race results you can expect without hurting yourself.
The important thing to remember is that running should be fun. If you push yourself to the point where running is a task that has to be performed only to feed your ego by getting better results than would normally be expected of you, you are doing yourself a disservice. How long will the desire to run last? Is it worth it to take the pleasure out of running just to get great 5K Running results that, in the final analysis, do not improve the quality of your life? Keep striving for improvement, but know when to stop. And remember, if you are over 30 and want to push yourself hard in the pursuit of a good 5k time, check with your doctor first to be sure it is safe.
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