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.
“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
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.
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?