Back of the Pack Motivation

I tried something different for a 5K race this past weekend. I was supposed to run the Shell Yeah challenge as part of the Crawlin’ Crab weekend here in Hampton, VA. The challenge consisted of a 5K race on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday.

It was decided that I should run the 5K on Saturday as a shakeout run.  I have been dealing with some pretty severe leg and hip issues that have put a serious dent in my training block. I had actually only run one time in the past two weeks.


The other consideration was how was I going to run my race on Sunday. How was I going to place myself in the corrals — I was scheduled to be in Corral 1 for both races. This placement was problematic for me because I have a tendency to go out strong and then sag in the middle of the race.

I had to find a way to govern myself and not let my competitive nature run away with me. So on Saturday, I decided to line up at the back of the race. There were four corrals, and I was in the back of Corral 4. I then proceeded to run the race at a much slower pace than I normally do. This worked really well because at the back of the pack, there are many walkers and newer runners.

This meant that as I ran, I passed people the whole time. I may not have been going at the same pace as normal, but it felt fast. This was very nice psychologically. I felt really motivated. In the end, I wound up passing around 1500 people.

This idea of running from the back of the field came to me from an article I read about Meb Keflezighi doing the same thing at the Peachtree 10 Miler – Keflezighi runs down pack at AJC Peachtree. While I could never be like Meb, I got a chance to feel like I was.

Give this a try. It is a ton of fun and gives a whole new feel to a race. However, make sure that the race is chip-timed.

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Eric Hunley

RRCA Certified coach. Started to change lifestyle in 2012 when weight was up to 283 lbs. Eventually started running later that year and racing in 2013. Has run in dozens of races and has been featured in some podcasts. Full Bio on About Page.
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  • Chris Wells

    This could be the answer to the problem I’m having at the moment of starting in the middle and everyone overtaking me. Start at the back and overtake some people would be great motivation.