Whippet Wisdom: 5th Avenue Mile Race Strategy

This week’s post refocuses our attention back on the short distance specialists – specifically, the 5th Avenue Mile. Arguably, this is one of the most unique events on the NYRR schedule:

  • It’s the shortest road race distance
  • It’s in a straight line
  • You directly compete against those of your age and gender
  • Like Team Champs, you have the ability to cheer on your teammates while also competing in the event
  • Stick around until the end to watch the elites go head-to-head on the same race course

Because of all this, race strategy and preparation is different from any other event. Those following the 5th Avenue Mile training plan have been running faster pace intervals with longer recovery over the past couple weeks. Some of the purposes for these workouts include:

  • Exiting the comfort zone of our normal slower-intervals-with-short-rest workouts comprising the bulk of all other training plans
  • Improve the body’s processing of lactic acid in the legs
  • Improve leg speed/ turnover
  • Focus on breathing at these faster speeds

As for race day itself, be sure to schedule your day accordingly. Here is the link to race schedule for the day: http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/2017/new-balance-5th-avenue-mile. Generally speaking, women before men and youngest to oldest. Scott brought up a very good point in his weekly Training Plan email that should not be overlooked: Be sure to run a generous warm-up before the race. I’ve always believed there is an inverse correlation between the amount of miles run to warm-up vs the amount of miles in the race. In this example, it would be very advantageous to run 2-3 miles beforehand starting 35/40 minutes before race time.

Similar to Thursday track workouts, run a series of strides and drills after your warm-up before entering the corral to initiate the body’s process of lactic acid. This will prevent the body from first receiving it during the race and not being able to keep up with the amount the body creates while racing. Following the race, it is also in your best interest to cooldown 2-3 miles to enable your body to completely flush out the lactic acid in your legs. You can jog while watching your teammates’ race.

For those of us who raced in high school and college, this race provides familiarity to your first initiation into running. If you have never raced a mile before, this is unchartered territory and, because of some of the reasons mentioned earlier, race strategy is also completely different for this event than any other. If I can offer one crazy tidbit of advice it is this: go out a little faster than your plan – one to three seconds faster than goal pace in the first quarter mile. With all the casual miles logged and hard workouts completed over the past few weeks, you are in better shape for a mile than you think you are. In my experience, people who are new to shorter distances always say to me after the race “I could have gone faster.”

Believe me, I get it. No one wants to go out fast and risk not having a good race. But the race will take most of you less than 7 minutes to complete. Nothing can go wrong in that short amount of time and the confidence gained from believing in yourself can last a lifetime. If there is one race you run this year where you take a chance on yourself, let this be it. I promise you won’t regret it. And all your teammates will be cheering/ screaming for you at the ¾-mile mark to get you to the finish!

See everyone on Sunday!

More about Chris Forti

Chris grew up just outside of Boston where he competed at the high school and collegiate level. In Boston, he coached athletes with varying objectives - from youth to high school to adults - and went so far as to marry his favorite athlete. He joined the Whippets in 2013 and is excited to be coaching for this highly motivated group. He works at siggi's yogurt in New York City as a demand planner and can be found playing "catch the red laser dot" with his favorite kitty, post-run. He calls himself "40" because "Forti" is evidently too many typeface characters to handle and can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@chris40runs), and Instagram (@chris40runs)

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