Five 5K’s in one day…why not?
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald
Are you running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon or another spring marathon? If so, you’ll probably be doing some kind of long run on Sunday, April 3. Here’s a suggestion: Instead of doing another long, slow run on one of your familiar routes, step outside the box and participate in the All-Day 25K at the Carlsbad 5000! This entails running five 5K races (for a total of 15.5 miles) in the span of four and a half hours.
Why? Here are three good reasons:
- It’s a great workout for marathon preparation. In the All-Day 25K you’ll cover more than half of the marathon distance, but in bite-size chunks that you may find more manageable if you’re not yet in peak form.
- It’s a fun and motivating atmosphere. In the All-Day 25K you’ll be surrounded by other runners, pumped up by music on the course, and cheered on by thousands of spectators. Compare that to your regular long runs from home!
- It’s something different. Let’s face it: marathon training can be a grind. A little variety to spice up your routine can help keep your mind on track all the way to race day. The All-Day 25K challenge gives you the new twist you need to stay motivated.
Are you convinced? Great! Now let’s talk about how to get the most out of your All-Day 25K experience.
Make no mistake: running five 5K’s in a single day is a real challenge, and one you’ll want to be well prepared for. Even though you get a break of 30 minutes or more after each 5K, running 25K in five separate chunks is not much easier than running 25K all at once. So you’ll want to have at least one training run of 13 miles or more behind you before you take on the All-Day 25K.
In addition to being fit, you’ll also want to be well rested for the All-Day 25K, just as you would be for a normal race. Train lightly for two days before the All-Day 25K.
Pacing is probably the trickiest part of the All-Day 25K. On the one hand, because you’re able to rest a little after each 5K, you can probably run faster than you could run a straight 25K. On the other hand, because you’re running five times in a single morning, you can’t run each 5K as fast as you would normally run a race of that distance.
There are two ways to approach pacing your All-Day 25K:
Option one is to play it safe and run each 5K just a bit faster than you would run a straight 25K. You can let it all hang out in the last one if you like. This is a good way to go if you’re still a ways away from peak marathon fitness.
Option two is to try to record the lowest possible combined time for all five races. In this case you’ll want to choose a pace between your straight 25K race pace and your normal 5K race pace for the first 5K segment and adjust your pace as necessary based on how you feel in each subsequent 5K.
Your success in the All-Day 25K will depend to a great extent on how well you are able to recover between the individual 5K’s. Nutrition is key here. Use your downtime to rehydrate with water or other fluids, refuel your muscles with carbohydrates, and minimize muscle damage with protein. Avoid consuming large meals or slow-digesting foods, however, as you don’t want to start your next 5K with a full stomach. Stick with light and easy-to-digest sources of nutrition such as recovery drinks and fruit.
While you might be tempted to sit or lay down between 5K’s, you’ll be better off staying on your feet. This will keep your muscles looser and prevent the onset of tightness and soreness that occurs when you become inactive and allow your body’s deep recovery processes to begin. While it’s important to avoid wasting energy between 5K’s, it’s equally important to avoid giving your body the message that it’s done for the day when it’s not!