In order to prepare for a 5k race you need to know beforehand what kind of time you’re aiming for and to mentally prepare for that. If you’re looking to run an even split race where each kilometre is the same as the last, you’re going to want to get out quite fast and be in control of the pace you want to run.
That means you need to ignore everyone else in the race and just focus on what you’re doing. Once you’ve set yourself into the rhythm of how you want to run, you will then start to see who else is around you, who’s running at the same pace and then work off each other to maintain that pace.
Extended warm up
Depending on what time of day the race is, it might be an idea to do an extended warm up compared to what you normally do. Because the 5km is quite short, it is important that you warm up adequately. You don’t want to be still getting into your stride and warming up during the first 2km of the race, because you will lose a lot of time and a potential PB doing that!
Get there early
If the race is in the morning then getting to the venue about 2 hours before is a good idea. This will enable you to perhaps look at the course and work out if there’s anything you need to know about the surface, potential mud patches, what line to take round the corners, all the little things that you might not think about.
Easy jog and then strides
You should do a 10-20 minute easy jog just to wake the legs up. This should then be followed by some activation drills, maybe some high knees, and other various drills. About 10 minutes before the race you should aim to do some 100m strides, about 4 of them, starting off at race pace and getting quicker. This means when it comes to the start you will have already run the pace you want to set off with.
Jog in the morning for an evening race
If the race isn’t until the evening then jogging the morning of the race is a good idea, for around 10-20 minutes, the same as you would do for the warm up just before the race. Hopefully it will mean that you are that little bit more awake when it comes to race time. When you get to the race in the evening you would still do the same warm up as mentioned above, it just means that you are not sat around all day getting lethargic waiting for the race in the evening.
Eat 2-3 hours before and hydrate well
Like most races you should eat well before you run something substantial about 2-3 hours beforehand and make sure you are sufficiently hydrated. You don’t need to worry too much about eating loads of carbohydrate as the race is only a little more than 3 miles.
Wear appropriate shoes for your distance
Wearing the correct footwear can also take a few seconds off your time. All of the elite runners wear racing flats, shoes which are quite minimal and lightweight. Wearing these will mean you will carry less weight around the race and they should make you feel faster! Obviously these shoes are not designed to be worn for ALL your training, and should only be worn to race distances up to 10k. For the marathon and half marathon you need a shoe with more support and cushioning.
Trust in the training you have done leading up to the race and don’t be scared to run fast. Nobody ran a PB by holding back. If it doesn’t go to plan, there is always another 5k to race, so good luck!