Today was the Cambridge 5K Race Series Freedom run. It was a relatively flat, fast course through Cambridge, Mass., starting at the Cambridgeside Galleria Mall.
The course was the same over the past two years, and I am happy to say that I cut 30 seconds off my time from last year. You can see the results below. While I have been running, I can’t attribute the improvement to any particular training program. I think, though a couple of things helped.
The Cambridge 5K series has well-organized, popular races. So, they always have a lot of runners. Today I was by myself for the race and stated towards the back of the pack. I came up with a thought during the race that I think might have helped my time.
It seems to me that when running in a group like this, the goal should be to get to a place in the pack where you aren’t passing a lot of people or you have more people passing you than you are passing. It seems to me that if you push yourself to get to the place in the pack where you are no longer passing people, then you have reached your ideal pace for that race. It seems like you want to be there, but this does depend on a lot of variables, so I am not sure that it will work as a race strategy. A 5K is short, and there are a lot of variables around running speeds and where people line up, but it might be a race strategy worth experimenting with. Has anyone ever tried this?
The second factor was a little more specific, but it was about maintaining a consistent pace. My friend Kris, who runs much farther distances than I ever will and over some pretty challenging terrain, told me that you want to maintain the same effort going down hill that you use going up hill. Note that this does not mean the same speed. You should be going faster downhill. There was a slight rise near the end of the race that went up and then down, and as I was coming down, I worked to maintain the effort. I think this helped me keep up a good pace all through the race.
Also, I have mentioned this in an earlier post, but being near the back of the pack on this race reaffirmed the value of agility ladder training. It made it easier to get around slower runners and dodge out of the way of the faster ones.
Let me know what you think of these race strategies and whether you have any suggestions for others.