When it comes to be a runner, it can sometimes seem like a marathon is the only valid race to do. I went to the Runner’s World Web site to read an article about why the 5K is awesome. But before I could view the article, this advertisement popped up.
The opt out was “No thanks, Marathons are easy.” It wasn’t even “No thanks, Marathons are not my thing.” The underlying assumption was “of course you want to run a marathon.”
Guess what? I don’t.
I don’t have any interest in doing a marathon, despite the fact that nearly every running publication and runner’s group is about training for a marathon.
One of the reasons I started this blog is because I wanted to have a place where the 5K runner could have something that focused on this distance, rather than constantly needing to hear that we should always have to go 37+ kilometers. So, here are 5 reasons that I run the 5K and not the marathon.
1. The Challenge of the 5K: Many marathoners decide to tackle the distance for the challenge it represents. For me, though, going further does not represent a challenge I want to tackle. As a ultra-marathon runner I know told me, it is easier to train people to go farther than it is to train them to go faster. For me, faster represents a more difficult challenge, so that is the challenge I am interested in pursuing. To go faster, I need to train smarter, harder, and with more variety than I would need to go farther. No disrespect to long distance runners, but I feel like if I put in the time, then I could train myself to go farther.
2. The Time to Train for the 5K: Putting in the time to train for a 5K is much shorter than it would take to train for a marathon. The marathon runners that I know have spent massive amounts of time training for that distance to the point where they work, eat, sleep, and run. A 5K, especially when you are training to go fast, has a much more compact training schedule. Intervals are much shorter (though maybe equal in suck) as the long runs that take up much of a marathoner’s weekend.
3. The Time to Run a 5K: I can run a 5K in under half an hour. Now, as I said above, I think I could train up to do a marathon. But, I don’t think I could set a record time. It would probably take me several hours to actually run one. With a 5K, I can do a race, drink a beer, and have the rest of the day to do something else. I have run a 5K and gone on to do a fencing tournament. Marathons take a little longer to recover from and get back into the swing of life. Yes, I know that some runners have done 50 marathons in 50 states over 50 days or some other record setting feet of the same, but I know I am not that person.
4. The Variety of 5K Races: Marathons are 26.2 mile races that vary in their courses and their histories. These can be quite special. For instance, no one can deny the gravitas of the Boston Marathon, especially after the events of 2013. (As a Boston area resident, I certainly recognize it.) But when it comes to 5K races, there is a variety in the races that range from highly technical trail runs, to fast road races, to obstacle courses. The options to do different kinds of races appeals to me, whether it is a competitive race or just a run for fun.
5. The Fun of 5K Races: When it comes to 5K races, you can do them with your friends and have a good time instead of everyone hobbling to an ice bath afterwards. For some runners, the alone time is the point. They like being out on the course on their own, challenging themselves. The 5K race is accessible, and there is usually a party afterwards. Either we all run together, or we might agree to meet at the beer tent afterwards. Either way, it becomes a group activity. We talk about the race, we talk about the course, and spend some time together after the race. It becomes a social activity rather than just a chase for a PR.
So those are my reasons, and this is my blog about doing this kind of running. I hope that marathoners would get something out it, but this is for those of us who go the short distance. By the way, if you want to see the article I was chasing when I got the above advertisement, check out this link : 10 Reasons why the 5K is Freaking Awesome. Lauren Fleshman doesn’t know it, but she became my spirit guide for running with this article. It helped inspire this blog. If you’ve decided to stick with 5Ks, then let me know why. If you use 5Ks as a stepping stone to marathons, you are welcome to try to convert me, but really, it’s not going to happen. Still, happy running trails to you, whatever your chosen distance.