Fort Collins is fortunate to be home of such a vibrant running scene. There is a plethora of weekly group runs and training routes that allow you to run in a safe and often scenic environment away from cars.

Below is an article on how to train for 5k and other short-distance races (i.e., less than a marathon).

Training for a 5k Race

by Jonathan Zeif, FCRC member extraordinaire and former race director of the FireKracker 5k

Many members will be running in the FireKracker 5k on July 4th at City Park and have been training and focusing on it as a key race for the season. The course is flat and fast with a big field and spectators on hand. I have outlined below some things you can do to make sure you have your best race possible. This information can really be used for any big race that you may be training for.

In the days leading up to the race is time your workouts should become focused so you can stay sharp. Track workouts are the best for 5K training. Another option is the Fort Collins bike trail system where there are quarter mile distances (approximately 400 meters) marked off which you can use as well.

Warm up for all workouts with 800 to 1600 meters of easy jogging, and follow up with an easy cool down of about 800 meters. Here’s a sample of the final week’s workout:

6 days to go: 6×400 at race pace with a 400 meter recovery jog between each repeat.
5 days to go: rest
4 days to go: 4×400 at race pace
3 days to go: 3×400 at race pace
2 days to go: 1×800 at race pace
1 day to go: Rest! If you really feel that you need to burn off some nervous energy, you can go out for an easy 1 mile jog just to loosen up.

These workouts will also help you get the feeling of your race pace. Another thing that you can do to improve your race performance is visualization. What this involves is rehearsing in your mind what will unfold and / or how you want to feel during the race. Visualization is also called guided imagery.

Close your eyes and picture yourself at the starting line. Look around. Try and imagine as much as you can about the scene. What emotions are you experiencing? Choose the way you want to feel. After the starter’s gun goes off, see each part of the course unfolding as you want it to. Perhaps you want to see yourself closing in and passing that runner in your age group that you haven’t been able to catch lately. You make the final turn and the finish line is ahead. You are finishing fast and strong!

Starting one week out, repeat this visualization each day as well as the morning of the race. You might want to do it immediately after your workouts while you are still on the track, or you can try it as you fall off to sleep at night. Include as much detail as possible. It actually has been documented that visualization can potentially improve your 5K race time and might be well worth the investment of time.


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