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Why I Don’t Run 5Ks (But I Should!)

by Meghann on June 10, 2014

First of all, I have the biggest girl crush on Lauren Fleshman. I love her attitude, I love her style, and I love her hottie husband. If you’re not following either on Twitter or Instagram , I highly recommend it (@fleshmanflyer and @jessemthomas).

Lauren recently wrote a great article for Runner’s World on the state of 5Ks and how undervalued the distance has become.

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To quote:

“With a growing obsession over distance races, and a focus on completion rather than competition, 5-Ks have somehow lost a lot of their badassiness. They have become little more than a gateway drug for marathons. The prevailing mentality is to go longer and longer and longer, until one day you find yourself down six toe-nails, dressed head to toe in compression gear, contemplating your first 50-K ultra over a morning bowl of chia seeds. Stop! Listen to me.

The 5-K is freaking awesome. It encourages you to develop a combination of endurance, speed, and strength. You can train for it and still have a life. You can race one every weekend and still be able to walk normally. If people ran more 5-Ks, I’m positive the average life satisfaction of humans would increase dramatically.”

Read the rest here – 10 Reasons the 5K is Freaking Awesome

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I’m the first to admit I’m 100% guilty of this attitude. The 5K was my gateway drug to marathons and my obsession with running sort of exploded from there. In less than a year I jumped from not running at all to running my first 5k to running my first half to running my first marathon. Instead of stopping at one distance and working on improving my speed, I just kept building until I did eventually hit that 50K distance a little more than two years after I started running. The same can be said for my triathlon background. I progressed from a sprint triathlon to an Ironman in a short time without ever improving speed – just distance.

With all of that in mind, there’s a reason I’m not a fan of the 5-k distance, and it’s not what most people think. It’s not that it’s “too easy,” it’s because 5-ks are freaking hard. I’m pretty sure the 5-k is the hardest distance I’ve ever raced.

Still, when I ran the Strawberry Classic 5K a few weeks ago (which is a great example of why 5Ks rock – it was cheap, close, and had great post-race food) I found myself repeatedly saying, “it’s just a 5-k” aka “no big deal.” But it really is a big deal. I pushed myself harder than I had in any of my runs leading up to that race (including three half-marathons) and finished feeling like I had to puke. That race was hard.

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I am not a fast runner. I know this and I have accepted this. My talent lies in holding a steady pace over a longer distance, rather than a fast pace at a short distance. I’m notorious for crashing and burning during 5-ks and training to go faster takes a lot of pain and commitment. In my opinion, running a half marathon or marathon is taking the easy way out.

Every race season it’s the same – I promise myself I’m going to get serious about the 5-K distance. I’m going to train my butt off, pick up the speed, and nail some new PRs… and then I get distracted. I register for a half marathon or full and take the easy way out.

Lauren may have inspired me to try again. I mean, she’s right – 5Ks are pretty awesome. They’re cheap, they’re easy, and while the training is tough, it’s not as time consuming – which is perfect for training while on the road this summer. The idea of trying for a PR scares the crap out of me (my current PR was set in 2009 and just thinking about it makes me feel ill), but it’s time for a change. No more taking the easy way out – 2014 is going to be the year of the 5K. Gulp.

Who’s with me?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life June 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Go for it! I’ve been working at the 5K the past year or so, and yes, it’s HARD but dang it feels good to see the time drop, even by a few seconds!! :)

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2 Sarah H June 10, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Thanks for bringing this article to my attention! I, too, have a girl crush on her, because she’s just so cool! 5ks actually scare me because I think running fast can be really intimidating, but it’s a good goal to work on improving my 5k! Love the article and love your post.

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3 Emily June 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm

I would probably do more 5ks, but a little voice in my head is always, “what’s the point?” Or maybe that’s my husband talking. Either way, I can run a 5k any day in my neighborhood, where running a marathon I’m paying for the support and the fact that the course is already defined and different from my usual running haunts. Paying $30 to run up and down the park to me doesn’t seem like I’m getting my money’s worth.

That being said, there is a big advantage to going to a race on a Saturday morning, finishing said race while it’s still morning, and, like you said, still being able to walk in the next few days going forward!

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4 Jen June 10, 2014 at 9:44 pm

I was a distance snob for a long time, but over the last year or so I’ve fallen back in love with 5 and 10K distances. They’re a smaller field, you don’t have to deal with expos and crazy packet pickups (I did find one exception that was terribly managed) and often they’re in pretty neat areas. This year I did one that went through a WWII blimp hangar, one through Knott’s Berry Farm and another in Chinatown in LA. They can have their problems, though. Often there are dogs and strollers allowed. As long as the people with those things stay to the side, things tend to be okay.

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5 Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete June 10, 2014 at 9:46 pm

5K is the toughest with a different frame of thought, for sure! Go get ‘em; you’ll feel fantastic after your first one in a while!

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6 Sarah June 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I have this huge huge huge problem with not signing up for a 5k unless it’s the maximum distance that is offered at a race. That mentality actually gets me in a lot of trouble. I don’t like signing up for half-marathons if there is a full marathon offered because a)it’s usually not that much more expensive and b) i know i’d be wanting to run the full marathon and get super jealous of everyone that was doing it. ugh it’s such a horrible mentality to get into. i want to improve my 5k though..

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7 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun June 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

5k’s are tough because you are going all out! I am training for a 10k in hopes of getting faster and decreasing my marathon time and shorter distances are NO joke!

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8 Rebecca@Running.Food.Baby. June 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm

I love the 5K – but I am very distracted this year with two half marathons and one marathon. I focused on the 5K last year and went from steady 30 minute 5K’s to 26:00 ones by the end of the season, BUT to get to that allusive sub-25 time, I need to do more speed work and just get faster. Yes – 5K’s are tough. I was ‘hurtin’ during my half a few weeks ago, but not going full out. I think I felt more awful in this week’s 5K!

Something I don’t want to do when I am aiming for “just to finish” a marathon. I’ve already had shin splints once with half marathon #1 this season. Next year I will go back to the 5K with the occasional 10K/half!

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9 Amy June 10, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I am currently training for my first full marathon, but had that thought as well that it would be fun to get back into 5ks and just go all out for a summer. It would be fun to race most weekends and keep me sharp. For now, I may just try to squeeze in a few 5ks and call it speedwork for my marathon training! Good luck to you!

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10 Stephanie June 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I’m running my first race, first 5k, EVER next Saturday June 21st. Super nervous. This doesn’t help my nerves but does make me look forward to my first half hopefully later this year :)

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11 Runner Girl Eats June 11, 2014 at 6:36 am

I’m with you!! I have declared this summer the summer of speed. I have focused so much on running further that I have completely ignored speed work. Let’s get fast :)

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12 Becca June 11, 2014 at 8:33 am

This is a good idea! I also hate 5ks because they’re so hard and I’m so slow. But I have stopped running distances in favor of doing other types of exercise or just plain other life things. So 5k training sounds like it could work for me right now!

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13 Sam @ The Running Graduate June 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

I agree! I love the 5k but it is super hard. My PR in this distance was set in 2008 and I want to beat it, especially after missing it by a second in May. While I’m training for some longer distance races, I’m hoping that I can fit in some speed work and that will help me kick butt in the 5k!

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14 Lesley June 11, 2014 at 9:19 am

I always think the 5k is going to be easy and then at about mile 2, I’m ready for it to be over. It’s 3.1 miles, I’ve done that plenty of times during my half marathons.

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15 Elizabeth {Positively Healthy} June 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

I don’t really run 5k’s but I loved that article and really made me want to run a 5k! It can be hard but I love the challenge! :)

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16 Jen @ Pretty Little Grub June 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

This is so true. We undervalue 5kms and I’m so guilty of saying “it’s just 5km”. I have only ever ran one 5km race. I’m like you, slow and steady – not speedy.

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17 Beth June 11, 2014 at 11:28 am

MEEEE! I LOVE the 5K! Let’s break 22 this season.

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18 Kristen @ Glitter and Dust June 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm

I have never actually run a 5K race before (I know, I know) and my shortest distance is a 10K. This actually has intrigued me to sign up for a 5K and see what it is all about. I like testing out my speed from time to time, and it seems like a shorter distance would be a great opportunity to see what I am capable of – running with that short-distance mindset. P.S. I am a huge fan of Lauren Fleshman too. She lives where I live, in Bend, OR, and is always doing awesome stuff in the community!

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19 Julie June 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I feel the same! 5k’s are so hard that I don’t do them! I am not fast enough to justify the pain, at least in my own head. I also really like food, and can’t justify eating a delicious pizza after a 5k the way I can after a marathon ;) But this does make me want to try shorter distances again! Thanks for the inspiration :)

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20 Summer June 11, 2014 at 6:36 pm

I am with you!

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21 Ashley June 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I never thought of this, but it is so true. My family and I were all introduced with 5ks, and gone on to much longer distances. I love her article too!

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