Liza and friend just after finishing a 5K, getting ready to head to brunch.
How To - Life - Musings

How Not to Run a 5K and How to Make the Next One Better

Last updated on May 16, 2019 by Liza Hawkins

Take my lessons learned if you’re a beginner getting ready to to run a 5K.

On October 8, 2011, I was prepped to run a 5K: The Pink Ribbon Race! It was my second 5K ever.

Bow pin from the Pink Ribbon 5K attached to running shorts.

You may remember last month when I posted about a triumphant finish of my very first 5K.

I spent a focused six weeks training for those 3.2 miles, dedicated to following my beloved “Couch to 5K” (C25K) regimen—and then actually ran the race in September before the C25K program had reached Week 9, Day 3 (the completion).

I ran that sucker in 35:48, and felt really good about myself and my endurance.

Knowing that I want running a 5K to be more than a simple check-mark on my bucket list, I signed up for a second 5K for the first week of October.

It was a breast cancer 5K—the ‘Pink Ribbon Race’ —and I felt very strongly that having finished so well in my first 5K, this second one would be less rough a breeze.

Then life happened.

Just after finishing the September race, I decided to take two days off from running. Since I’d never run a full 3.2 miles before that race, my body was really feeling rough—and I deserved a break, right?

I woke up the morning of day three with an annoying pinch in my lower back, the kind that makes you wince if you turn the wrong way. And despite my unrelenting hopefulness, it did not get better as the day went on.

It got worse.

So two days off turned into a week.

I asked my Facebook and Twitter buddies if I should run through it: “Maybe I’m just being lazy too tentative?”

I was answered with a resounding, “NO. DO NOT RUN THROUGH IT.”

And since they know best (right?), I didn’t run.

And another week went by.

Just two weeks now before my second 5K, and I laced up my sneaks for a run—Week 6, Day 3 of C25K. It was both encouraging and awful at the same time.

I ran for about fifteen minutes and then called it quits—stamina shot, back a little tight, I was worried about pushing it.

Three days later I ran again, adding a couple more minutes to my time, then stopping because I was completely spent there was lightening and thunder and I was worried about my safety. Maybe it was a sign.

Then, all of a sudden, there was one day left before the October race. And I had run a grand total of TWICE since the last 5K, just a month earlier.

I knew immediately this 5K would be different. It would be about having fun, and not about setting a personal best.

And that’s how it was. I’m not sure what my time was; quite frankly, I didn’t really pay attention.

But if I had to guess, I’d say I finished in about forty-five minutes, with a healthy amount of walking and a respectable amount of running.

I earned myself a delicious breakfast treat at Café Nola with a friend afterwards, and I learned how *not* to run a 5K (i.e., only running twice in four weeks), the steps of which I’m going to avoid next time around.

Liza and friend just after finishing a 5K, getting ready to head to brunch.

And speaking of next time around—you’ll see me running in “The Red Run” in November for the American Red Cross – Frederick County Chapter.

Perhaps this will be the race where I aim for a personal best, but if not, I know I’ll still have fun.

Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

2 Comments on “How Not to Run a 5K and How to Make the Next One Better

  1. Hi there! You are doing just the right thing-both in taki ng a break and accepting that “life gets in the way”!

    After 2 years of starting strong and first a political campaign, then a summer of home renovations in preparation for a home rental, then a home sale, I’ve decided that beating myself will not give me the time and energy I needed to train Sometimes life just gets in the way.

    I’ll find a running buddy once this life stuff is done in Nov and pick up again! You will too!

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