Ready to Run? Best 5k Options in Sacramento

By Amy Thoma

Sacramento is a great town for running. In fact, Men’s Health just ranked us as one of the top 15 fittest cities in the U.S. And if you’re interested in running your first or 50th 5k, there are some great options for you!

If you’ve never run a 5k, there’s no time like the present. The Couch-to-5k program is a great way to literally get yourself from the couch to the starting line. If you’re a more experienced runner having a goal race will give your daily runs a purpose and focus. Running to run is great, but running with a defined purpose and goal (beat your best time, run the whole thing, beat your ex-boyfriend… it can be any goal!) is better.

But first, a few race tips for beginners and some good reminders for  the rest of us.

  1. Are you wearing racing flats, have 5% body fat and plan to run sub 6-min miles? No? Then line up toward the back of the race. Let the faster runners go—most races are chip timed which means it won’t start recording you until you physically cross the mat. If you’re a walker stay to the right and let the runners pass (if it’s a multiple-loop course).
  2. Don’t wear headphones. Races are all about the atmosphere and the people you meet along the way. If you block out everything with your music you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun! Running with headphones can also be dangerous.
  3. Don’t wear or eat anything new on race day. Stick to what works for you. I stupidly ate a new breakfast before a race a few years ago—I’ll spare you the details but let me tell you—this is not a lesson to learn the hard way. 
  4. Don’t start too fast. Remain aerobic through the first mile and pick up speed along the way. This one is easier said than done, but it is the most efficient and smartest way to race a 5k. 
  5. Have fun. It’s just a local 5k. If you do poorly you aren’t going to lose your Nike sponsorship, spot on the Olympic Team or Gold Medal. It’s supposed to be fun. When running turns into a chore, it’s time to back off.

Upcoming Races in Sacramento:

JUNE 6: Nike Women’s 5k – State Capitol: This is a great race. It’s put on by Fleet Feet and circles Capitol Park twice. There are huge crowds to pump you up, it benefits WEAVE and the swag alone is worth the  price of admission. It’s also beginner friendly—there are two waves– one for walk/runners and one for runners which cuts down on the start line crowding and stampeding common in many 5ks. And Nike and Fleet Feet hook you up—you’ll get a cute tech T-shirt, shoe bag, water bottle, food samples and more. I can’t run it this year and I’m devastated. 

JULY 3: Run for Independence 5k – Elk Grove: What better way to show your love for America than a good old fashioned 5k? This race is held at the Elk Grove Regional Park and is a wonderful way to celebrate our country. Races at this park are flat, fast and a lot of fun. This race is also very family friendly.

JULY 24: Alzheimer’s Aid Society 5k – East Sacramento: I’ll admit it—running a 5k at a cemetery seemed weird. But this is a really fun race. The course starts at “Sacramento’s highest point” (um FYI it’s not a hill and will cost you 3 seconds at most) and winds through the Fab 40s and East Sacramento. When the pain of mile 2 sets in you can distract yourself by picking out your very own dream house in the Fab 40s. The course has a lot of twists and turns which keeps things interesting (although if you’re a personal record chaser it may cost you a bit of time—run those tangents!) and Mayor Johnson has recently touted it as “Sacramento’s 5k Championship” so if you’re a speedster, lace up those shoes and run!

AUGUST 15: Susan B Anthony 5k – Sacramento: I loved this race when I ran it two years ago. It’s a well-organized, small-ish women’s 5k that winds through the River Park area. It’s put on by the Buffalo Chips—Sacramento’s oldest running club. If you’re intimidated by the more serious  “race” environment of other 5ks, this is a nice, mellow 5k.

AUGUST 28: Race for the Arts 5k – Land Park: This is a fabulous race but it can be a hot one! Race for the Arts is held in Land Park at 6pm on a Friday. It’s a good chance for you sleepy heads who refuse to participate in early morning runs to enjoy a race and to blow off the steam of a long work week. The atmosphere here is always very festive and after you can check out the work of local artists, musicians, choirs and dancers.

Editor’s Note: Which race do you plan attending? Any other great races we left out? Drop up a line by leaving a comment below or emailing girlsonthegrid AT gmail DOT com.

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  1. Vicky says

    Very timely for me. I plan to start training this week for a 5K later this year. The Couch to 5K program sounds like just the thing for me!

  2. Chantel Elder says

    I just started running about a week ago and want to eventually work up to a half marathon….I know big goals right!? I am excited to know about some of these and plan on marking my calender! Thanks!

  3. Sacramento Wedding Photography says

    Fantastic advice! It’s so hard to not start off too fast with all the excitement but it can really mess you up. Also, Map My Run is a great website that lets you map out runs around your location so you know just how far you are going. Happy running everyone!!!

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