When you feel comfortable running
a distance of four miles, you're ready to enter your first 5K. During your first competitive season, 5K
races are a perfect distance. Don't try to set the world record. Line up at the back, and run the first mile at training pace.
If you feel good during the second mile, you could move through the crowd by slightly increasing the pace. If you are still feeling good at the end of mile two, pick up the pace and you'll pass other runners while feeling strong. Don't sprint at any time as this produces a lot of injuries.
More: How to Run Your First 5K
Get a log book and write down your finish time, the times at each mile mark, your strategy, mistakes and what you would do next time. Feel free to add any other notes as you get into this competitive mode of your life. It doesn't matter where you finished in the race, you can do better.
The notes from your race can help you make adjustments and improve. Many runners use my "Training Journal," which is also available on my website. The night before each race, read your log book. Look at the suggestions for improvement and other items to set up your strategy.
During each race, line up a little closer to the start. Look for runners you've seen in other races who run at your pace. It's nice to chat with them at the start. Run on one side of the road. When it's time for a walk break, move over to the side and walk. Most of the runners I've coached take a walk break at least every mile, even in a 5K
There's a "race day" suggestion sheet in most of my books, especially in "5K/10K, Testing Yourself and Half Marathon." After several races, you will find ways of fine-tuning this to your needs. Most people run their fastest times when they run the first mile a little slower. This saves resources for the last mile when it counts--just as Billy Mills discovered.
Sign up for your next race.