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FIrst 5K Race - What Should My Pace Be?

I am 51 years old and in fairly good shape (work out at the gym) but I have not run in years. I am running a 5k in November. What would be a good pace to shoot for as I train and prepare for the race?

running tips, 5k race paceAnswer by Dominique:

Hi there,

Thanks for your question about your first 5k running race. As I am reading your question I am not sure whether you want to know which pace to train at, or which pace to run during your 5k.

So, I'll just answer both.

I can't tell you how fast you can run this race. It will depend on your training and your fitness. But, I can provide some guidelines. See below.

The right running training will see you use different speeds in different workouts:

Easy running
Also known as conversational pace. This should be the staple of your running program. Also see the base running page.

Tempo Running
A bit faster. Also known as (lactic acid) threshold pace. See the tempo running page.

Interval Running
Again a bit faster. This is well over your lactic acid threshold, so expect your legs to get heavy as well as your breathing! See the interval running page.

How to string it all together?
Start off doing only easy running. It's called base running for a reason. You first want to establish your base. Without a base, speed is nothing.

As you are fit, but new to running, I would do only easy running till about the start of October.

Then start introducing some faster running, one workout per week. One week tempo running, the other week interval running.

The length of the tempos and the intervals will depend on how far you can run, for now, it is just important to introduce some speed.

As you get ready for the race you will probably start to get a handle on your tempo pace. Competitive 5k pace is well faster than that, which should give you a reasonable guideline on how fast to run.

However, getting good at running and getting good at racing takes time and practice, so make sure to not get too hung up on your time goals. For your first 5k it is always a good idea to just go out and try to enjoy the experience.

As a last running tip: have a think about using a heart rate monitor in your running. It will help in staying at the right pace. See this heart rate monitor training page.

Best of luck with the 5k race prep and the race itself.
Kind regards,

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