If you have a favorite distance you race that is a 10k or longer, consider mixing it up a little. For the last 15+ years I’ve only raced 10ks with a couple 10 milers and one marathon thrown in. But last week I happend to read that a neighboring city was having a “Freedom Run 5k” on a Sunday night. My family was out of town and I had that night open so I invited a friend and we went to check it out. I am SO glad we did. The weather was perfect, the entry fee was only $10 at the event (T-shirt included) and the course was a nice, residential neighborhood run.
We did the one mile “fun run” as a warm-up so I came out of the 5k gates a little quicker than normal. With a 7:04 at the one-mile mark I had a hard time convincing my legs (and brain) that we weren’t running a 10k. I had to fight the urge to pace myself but still slowed to a 14:40 at the two-mile. Then I noticed a guy just over my shoulder that appeared to be using me as a pace setter. We glanced at each other and both of us started picking up the pace, neither of us wanted to let the other gain ground. It worked for me as I sprinted the final 100 yards that I never would have otherwise. A 22:34 for my first 5k at age 50 felt good. It also must have helped my 10k time a little because the following weekend, I ran my best 10k in years.
So, if you only focus on one distance, try mixing it up. Variety is the spice of life.