Congratulations! You are running the USATF Masters 5K Championships presented by the Atlanta Track Club. That means you are fast and fit! But are you ready for the Hills, Heat, and Humidity of Atlanta?
Fortunately, the weather should be pleasant in February. Georgia may be in the South, but be prepared for a chilly start! (Or maybe we Southerners think this is cold weather).
Unfortunately, you cannot escape the Hills.
The 5K begins (and ends) at Centennial Olympic Park, established during the 1996 Olympic Games. It's truly the heart of downtown Atlanta. The course doubles as the course for Atlanta's Finest 5K, a Peachtree Road Race qualifier.
Once the gun sounds, be prepared for a fast start. The first 1K is quick as you fly down Marietta Street with a net -1% grade. Then the course gets interesting. You climb back up 2-3% grade until you reach the 1 Mile market near the same elevation you started the course.
You will roll through hills in Mile 2. For the first 800m, you progress uphill, make a sharp turn right, and bomb down a steep downhill. There are three sharp but short inclines to tackle as you run behind the Georgia Tech University campus (Go Jackets!). Again, you will finish Mile 2 near the same elevation you started the mile.
Mile 3 is where championships are won, and PRs are made. You will continue rolling over hills for the first part of the mile. Once you pass the Coca-Cola Global Headquarters on your right, it's time to go to work. A 400m hill climb on Luckie Street with a 4% grade is ahead. To me, this is the most testing part of the course that comes at a critical time when lactic acid is pumping through your legs. Below is the Strava Leaderboard for Top 10 times up Luckie Hill. That's me tied for 6th place, but definitely, that time was not during a race. At race pace, this climb will be a +70 second effort at a hard rate as your body screams for relief.
Once you crest Luckie Hill, you have a 400m downhill, mostly straight sprint to the finish.
USATF Masters 5K Championship - Workout Plan:
I am a proponent of treadmill training to simulate race conditions. The USTAF Masters 5K Championship hills are unique enough that it is difficult to find a close substitute in your running. But the treadmill can simulate Atlanta perfectly.
- Warm-up as you would before a race, including strides
- Miles 1 and 2 with rolling hills up to 3% incline
- Mile 3 simulate Luckie Hill using the above course map. Run the indicated incline for the duration of the hill.
- Sprint to the Finish! The last 400m is straight and downhill to the finish. During this section, you can make up a lot of lost time from hills if you train to run harder than your goal pace.
Best wishes on chasing your USATF Masters 5K Championship running goals!
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