5/10k strategy for race day

Is there a general consensus strategy for these distances to work towards a PR, or do you have your own plan for race day? Feel like there’s a lot of ways to go into the race depending on the course. Right now my plan for both is finding a steady race pace for both and working on pushing the pace in the last 1/5 of the race.


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Generally speaking if you view the mental halfway point of a race as roughly 60-75% of the race distance and be prepared to hit it from there, most do pretty well. So in a 5k, the race starts at 2 miles, you run a steady pace and resist the urge to respond to surges (basically be patient) at 2 miles, that's when you go for it. In the 10k it's at 4.5 miles, in the half marathon it's 10 mile point, for the marathon it's 20 miles. You can tweak it from there once you get more experience, but this general guideline works for most.

I run about 25 miles a week and have done probably 20 or so 5k races in just over 2 years (I'm 50). I've found that doing at least one significant interval session per week has made a big difference in lengthening my ability to run faster for longer periods of time, especially in races. Most will tell you that a vast majority of your miles need to be "easy" miles and get your tempo runs in too, get lots of rest, etc. That is of course, true.
Personally, if I don't seriously push my interval sessions, I don't see cardio growth for both practice and races. Overdoing things is always a concern for me, so I'm always reminding myself to log some easy miles too.
My strategy is I start near the front of the pack and let the true speedsters pass me by (in both 5k and 10k races). I try not to push it too hard that first mile of a 5 or first 2 miles of a 10k...after the first mile I can gauge my pace and breathing/how I feel and I start to crank things up some. By this point, I've pretty much figured out no one else is going to pass me and so I start to look at those in front of me as my prey and I start to target some of those people (and try and pick them off by race's end). In a 5k, I check how fast I ran my 2nd mile and if I'm too slow I definitely ramp it up pretty much right away and if I like the pace of mile 2, I stay with it and just stay in rhythm till the last 1/3 mile or so (and I dig deep that last third and try and sprint it). That 3rd mile of a 5k I'm definitely looking for someone to pace me that's running just a bit faster than I want to and I just try and stick with that person and continue pushing till the finish.
My experience is that you're looking to find a delicate balance between making sure you don't empty your tank the first half of the race, but also don't leave too much in the tank by waiting too long to ramp things up. If you go out way too fast, you'll be dying by the end of mile 2 and you won't be able to ramp things up that last 1.1 miles of a 5k. Saving gas for that last mile is very good advice...gauge how you're feeling when you hit the end of mile 2 and adjust accordingly. If you've done lots of speed/interval work, you should be able to crank things up if you didn't go out too fast and most of us are likely able to sustain a strong final mile or so.