Preparing for the Yuengling Lager Jogger 5k, My First Real Running Race

I posted this on Instagram the day I entered,
partially so I don't chicken out!
My relationship with running hasn't always been a positive one. It still isn't, depending on the day. I started training for a marathon when I lived in Alaska, but halfway through the program, I'd developed such severe ITBS that I had to quit.  I'd worked up to 10 mile training runs and it was a huge disappointment.

I haven't signed up for a race since then, and the only running I've done has been through my programming at CrossFit Love. When I started CrossFit in 2011, we all learned pose running techniques to maximize efficiency and speed. We do sprint (100, 200, 400 and 800 meter) intervals on occasion, run five miles or more once in a while, even take field trips to local park for trail running. Other than the fact that running isn't a primary component of my fitness regime, I've run 5k distances and beyond before, so what's the big deal?

The big deal is, I'm scared. Since learning the pose method, I'm running faster and issues with my IT band have been few and far between. I made the gradual transition to minimalist footwear for CrossFit, but perhaps not gradually enough. Last year, I found myself batting a mild case of plantar fasciitis after adding a few CrossFit Endurance-based runs to my regular training each week. It's since healed and I've been symptom-free for over a year, still happily doing everything I do in minimalist footwear (including a 4.75km run at CrossFit last week!). But it seems the longer the run, the more likely it is that I'll have an ITBS flare-up as my pose running technique falls apart. It happened during the adventure race I competed in this fall. Based on my injury history, it's hard to get past the notion that despite what I read in Born to Run, perhaps I'm just...not. At least, not very far.

Since the marathon training debacle, I've been hesitant to enter a race regardless of the distance. It's one thing for me to set a goal to run a given distance on my own and walk or slow down if things start to hurt, but it's a completely different story to sign up for a race, given how competitive I can be. When an entrepreneurial friend mentioned she partnered up with Yuengling to host a 5k race, it seemed like the perfect chance to face my fears.

Crossing the finish line for the Edge Adventure Race
in October (at a slow jog).
The Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5k run/walk will start and finish at America's oldest brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on April 13, 2013.  With any luck, I'll cross the finish line with a time I'm happy with, and without any IT band pain. But that's not all I'm hoping to get out of it. I'm also hoping to:
  • Rekindle a relationship with a sport that, deep down, I really do enjoy, but that I'm honestly afraid of.
  • Rid myself of the dread I feel when running comes up in CrossFit workouts. 
  • Use it as a confidence builder. CrossFit is part of my daily routine; running isn't. If I'm able to set a goal time and achieve it based on the fitness level I've achieved through CrossFit, I'll feel pretty great. And if I can make it through without old injuries flaring up, perhaps a 10k or half marathon will be next.
  • Use the race as motivation to supplement my CrossFit routine with more trail running this spring and summer. There's nothing quite like gallivanting around in the woods, and I don't do it often enough.
  • Prove to myself that, when push comes to shove, I can keep my technique in line.
With all of that said, I'm looking to all of the experienced 5k racers out there for tips. I have a few ideas of my own, but can use all the help I can get from folks who've done this before. How do you typically pace a 5k - is it an all-out sprint, or a negative split effort? Do you take a watch with you to make sure you're on pace, or just trust your body? What do you base your goal time on? What does your pre-race routine look like? If I get a painful stitch in my side, what do I do to get rid of it without slowing down or walking?

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Jayme said…
Hey, congrats on taking the plunge back into running! I too have sort of a fraught relationship with it. I think a lot of swimmers do ;) I was training for a half marathon last winter/spring when I had to abort the mission because of tendonitis and a stress fracture in my ankle. Not only did it blow my half marathon hopes, but also my triathlon season :( I thought I was building mileage slow and steady, but apparently not quite slowly and steadily enough.

I'm back to running now, once again training for a half in April, as well as a half ironman in June. My long runs are up to about 8 miles now, and I'm around 16 mpw (plus swimming/biking). So far, so good. Last half training cycle I was having problems by now, distance wise. In January I ran more miles than I ever have in a single month in my life. It's neat, at 31, and having done quite a lot in the pool, to pick up a new sport and be able to have those milestones. I mean, I'm probably never going to say "I just swam further than I ever did" again, you know?

I'm no great 5k'er, so I don't have much advice on that itself - beyond just enjoy the experience. I am a training data head, so I always wear my Garmin when I run, but I try not to look during races. I choose my goals based on the paces I hold in training runs. I usually surprise myself come race day, and I bet you will too. Once I got past the initial painful part of running, I'm finding I really enjoy it. Hope you do as well!
Heather Balogh said…
For me, I say the 5k is a short enough distance that you just go all-out as best as you can. I typically run through my side stitches because I can tolerate them for at least 20 minutes, but it can definitely suck :) You'll do great, Katie!!
Heidi Henry said…
I have no doubt in my mind that you're going to rock this. Go, Katie, Go!
Katie said…
Thanks Heidi! How do you usually pace a 5k? I don't know where to start!
Katie said…
Sounds good, Heather! I thought I could tolerate the stitches too, but was almost hyperventilating the other day trying to get it under control. Bleh. Hopefully that won't happen on race day!
Katie said…
Thanks Jayme! You're my idol, you and your triathlons. I'm hoping to do a triathlon someday and you can bet I'll have a million questions when I do!

I'm sorry to hear about the injury, but glad you were able to recover. Also, congrats on the milestone! And you're right...I think part of why I'm so excited about CrossFit is it's a chance to challenge myself and see how I'm able to improve over time based on measurable benchmarks.

And you're right, I'm just going to do my best to have fun, and set reasonable goals based on what I'm able to do in CrossFit. I think the scariest part is that I'm really not running much, and don't plan to, so I'm really not sure what's going to happen :)

Thanks for the note and the tips!
Maijaliisa Burkert said…
Good for you, Katie - I like that you are developing a strategy for this since you recognize your own desire to be competitive. When I do 5K runs it's always for big events that are super crowded, so unless you start in the front, you have no chance to really pace your own race (especially in Savannah where you are running downtown around dozens of squares!). Anyways, I am not an experienced 5K racer, just a casual 5K runner with friends wearing tutus and other silly things. Hope you have fun!