No doubt, both Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury are each on a hot streak. Make that a sizzling streak: Huddle, 29, recently re-set her American record in the 5,000m on the track (14:42.64) and picked up a USA 7 mile championship title in Davenport, Iowa, in late July 2014. Rowbury, also 29, etched her name into the American record books in 2014 with a 9:20.25 two mile; she then became the first American woman to run both sub-4:00 in the 1500m (3:59.49) and sub-14:50 in the 5,000m (14:48.68). Here, the speedsters reveal their race tactics and tips—and share what you can do to drop time from your 5K.
Start Strong, Finish Fast
"It's all about getting quicker as the race goes on," says Rowbury, who typically relies on her quick closing speed to kick past her competitors in the final meters. "The 5K is a tough distance, so I recommend that people don't start out too fast. I think it's better to instead focus on trying to work the second half of the race and catch as many people as you can." Rowbury's best tactic? To run just above her goal pace for the first 2,000m, which saves some gas in the tank for the last dash towards the finish line.
Rule of Thirds
To stay strong throughout, both Rowbury and Huddle approach the 5K distance as three races in one. "Since I'm used to racing the 1500m, I've had to change my mental approach for the 5K," says Rowbury. "I break the race up into segments, and I have found that three works the best for me, staying relaxed as possible earlier on, then focuses on competing in the later stages."
Photo by: Gary Rowbury
Huddle employs a similar strategy. "Focus on each mile one at a time," she says. "I try to make sure I don't go below a certain pace or get too lactic in the first mile, create a good position and maintain it in the second mile, and go a little crazy digging deep and passing as many people as possible that last mile."