Fall 5k/10k training programs starting soon

Registration is now open for PGRC’s fall 5K and 10K training programs.  Click on the links below for more information and to register.

5K program– starts September 12

10K program– starts September 19

WDF and ET 5K’s August 29

PGRC’s Women’s Distance Festival 5K and Estimated Time Run 5K are this Saturday at the Greenbelt Youth Center (note the change in location from previous years).  Online registration is still open (closes Thursday at midnight).  You may also register race day for a slightly higher fee.

This year, the overall, masters, and age group winners in the women’s 5K will receive $5-$25 gift certificates from Pacers Running Stores.   Also, there will be LOTS of random prizes for all runners; and fantastic prizes for the Estimated Time Run winners.

Here are a few racing tips (feel free to add your own in the comments section)–

1. Arrive early.  Allow plenty of time to get your race number, use the bathroom, warmup, etc.  

2. Dress for the weather.  Think tank tops (or your PGRC singlet), shorts, wicking materials. 

3. Warm up.  This is especially important for shorter distances like 5K.  Get your body ready to go at race pace when the “gun” goes off.   So many runners neglect the warmup, going straight from the car to the start line.  Spend some time walking, then jogging slowly, then some short but faster paced running.  If it is your first 5K, you might just walk for 10-20 minutes.  But if you are trying to race at your best (whether that is a 6 minute pace or an 11 minute pace), a good warmup is essential.

4. Line up properly.  Put yourself in the proper position so that you can go out at your race pace as soon as possible, but without impeding faster runners behind you.  Here are the results from last year’s WDF and ET runs so you can see where in the pack you should be for the start.

5. Pacing.  Hopefully, you’ve practiced your goal pace so your body knows what to do when you start the race so you go out fast enough but not too fast.   Even pacing (every mile at the same pace) is a good goal.  If it is very hot and/or humid, your pace will be slower (and so will everyone else’s!), so adapt accordingly– don’t be a slave to your running watch.  Of course, if you are feeling good and your pace feels too easy, pick it up a little. 

6. Racing.  If you are trying to run your best, 5K is a really tough distance.  Most of the race will be really really hard, but at least the pain will be over relatively quickly!  Think of 2-3 strategies ahead of time for how you will deal with those feelings of wanting to quit that will come during miles 2 or 3 of the race.  For example, I use mantras/reminders such as “run relaxed,” “relax your shoulders,” “run tall.”  You can also focus on the runner ahead of you, imagine they are pulling you along with a rope.  Or focus on the race in pieces (you can divide into time segments, or landmarks on the course).  

7. Finish strong.  You will be surprised at the extra gears you have in the last few hundred meters of the race (esp if you’ve been practicing on the track).  Cross the line, catch your breath, grab some water, then come back and cheer on the runners who are still racing.

Hope you have a great race!


Running: It’s a Journey, not a Destination.

For months now, I have whined and moan and whined some more about my various frustrations with my running.  From my breathing to my form, it never seemed to quite come together.  I had a conversation the other day regarding the upcoming 10K training and how despite my lackluster performance in the Fun Runs and the constant struggle to keep up with my pace group, I was excited about signing up.  It was “suggested” to me, that perhaps 10k might be too much for someone like me (i.e. slow) and that perhaps repeating 5k might not be such a bad idea.  The suggestion, which I’m sure was given in earnest with only my best interest at heart, struck a nerve.  At first I became angry.  Wondering how dare you, person, suggest I’m not up to a challenge?  Four months ago, I was a snack cake eating, rerun watching, spud whose only exercised involved a 20 foot walk to my car.  Who are you to judge?

Then, I thought about it. In fact, I thought about it ALOT!  And I started to think maybe this person was right.  With all my “issues,” it seemed like everyone was progressing, but me.  So with all this self doubt weighing heavy on my mind, you can imagine what my run was like today, as I watched the space between me and my pace group get wider and wider.  I finished, last of course, stretched and headed back to my car. On the way, I had a talk with one of my fellow pace group members and she asked if was going to do the 10k training.  I said yes, but in my heart, I wasn’t so sure now.  She said to me, “I’m so glad you’re doing 10k. It just proves how far you’ve come.”  How far I’ve come??  What is she high?  I’m the unofficial problem child of my pace group.  The “special needs” runner who always ends up with a pace coach pep talking her back to base camp.  What is she talking about?

But she went on to say, “I can tell you’ve made progress from when you first started.” (Or something like that) And I thought to myself, you know, she’s right. I am not so far down the totem pole as I have portrayed myself. I HAVE come a long way.  One mile felt like torture in the beginning. I can do the full three miles AND some, and live to tell about it!  Hell, I’d just done at least FOUR!

But it was George, who really brought it all home for me.  As we were walking and talking about our various struggles with running, the conversation turned to pace. I’d remarked about how, in an effort to keep up with my pace group, I often start off too fast and end up lagging behind as a result. George said, “This isn’t a race. So what if you end up in the back as long as you finish. What’s important is that you do what you can do. Speed will come in time.” (Or something like that)  And  I thought, all this time, I’ve been beating myself up believing or being led to believe that my progress hinged on somebody else’s idea of what my pace should be.  Can I run a 9:30 mile? Heck no!  But I can run 9 minutes straight (and longer) at MY pace!  Unheard of four months ago!

This whole experience has not been about the race, but more about laying the foundation for longevity in the sport . And if I’m going to continue, injury free, I have to be patient and forgiving when my body does what it can.   I also have to give myself credit for what I HAVE accomplished instead of the things I have not. No, every run has not been perfect. And I’m sure there are more janky runs to come, but the goal is and should always be, to just show up and love yourself no matter what the outcome.

So  I say all of this to say, YES, I WILL be signing up for 10k training. And so what if I’m at the back of the group, what’s important is that I show up and finish.

Running calculators

Aside from running, I also play with numbers. That has lead to 3
different running-related calculators, including a couple which are
aimed at training and training paces. They are:


hr will describe some points for heart rate-based training, and compute
appropriate zones for you. It’s very old — predating even my start
in coaching (which was 2002) — but the basics are still fine. I’ll
be adjusting, some year, the distances at the bottom (where it connects
distance to sustainable heart rate). But the verbal descriptions, I’ve
been assured by a number of runners over the years, from ‘chatting
easily’ to ‘lungs on fire’, are pretty good.

pace will give you estimates of your race times at different distances,
given (in the ‘even pace’ column) your pace for one distance. It will
also give you the time per 400m/mile/… that will get you to the finish
line at your desired time. It also will address somewhat your training
paces for different sorts of training (VO2max, etc.) This, too, is
quite old and, as always, I’d do things differently today. But it’s
still basically good.

The new addition is walkrun, which will give you estimates of your time
for covering assorted distances given your walking pace, running pace,
and how much of each you’re doing. I was just using it to discover that
in my current 1:1 run/walk (yes, restarting, again) I’m probably running
more like 9 minute miles, than the planned 10:30-11:00. Anyhow, you can
use it to estimate your finish times for different races according to
different walk/run proportions, and your paces. I also have looked at
it for finishing the RRCA 10 miler next February, in under 2 hours.
For a 10 minute/mile running pace, 16 minute/mile walking pace, I’ll
make it with 2 minutes running to 1 minute walking. I can’t see being
in shape to run 10 miles straight, but 2 hours of 2:1 run/walk … that
could happen.

As always, comments, questions, suggestions are welcome.

Happy trails,
Bob Grumbine

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