6.2 reasons 10K training will ROCK!

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Sorry to be a broken record over here, but I’m about to take a month-long break from blogging. One thing that’s significant about this is that when I return, I will be TRAINING for something again!

In light of that, and to honor the 6.2-mile distance that will soon become my obsession, I thought I’d go over the 6.2 reasons (yes, there is a .2!) why I’m excited to train for shorter distances. I’ve discussed my upcoming 10K training before, but since the running world and particularly the run blogging world is now entering Marathon Training Mania, I couldn’t resist the chance to make the case for shorter distances.

  1. MOAR racing!!!
    The ability to race hard multiple times in a season is probably the biggest advantage of shorter distance training. There is less pressure to get it right on one particular day because if you miss your goal, or the weather sucks, or you’re just having an off day, no worries – you can just try again next week! Feeling blue because you’re missing the magic, adrenaline and excitement of race day once it’s abruptly over? No need! Turn that frown upside down because you get to experience it again in a couple weeks, and then again, and then again!
  2. Unlocking competitiveness
    Since the shorter distances tend to be less popular (especially when they are part of an event that also includes a half marathon), you will likely be competing against fewer people. Fewer competitors = better AG and all-around placement! That’s always fun!

    In both of the two 10Ks I ran last September, I placed 3rd in my age group (one of those was out of 289 runners in my age group), despite not having trained much. It’s not that I’m simply that good, it’s that both events also included a half marathon and more of the competitive runners were apparently drawn to that – a cursory glance at the half marathon results of that 3/289 race shows that even if I were in PR shape, I would have been good for 20th place in my age group, at best.

    The great thing about running is that there is immense satisfaction in simply running your own race and competing just against yourself and the clock. But it also feels good to be among the top of your class. It’s part of human nature to want to be among the best at something. Part of the satisfaction of half and full marathons is just finishing the darn thing, but most of us already know we can finish a 10K, so we devote that energy to other things: pushing yourself to paces that used to seem like science fiction, digging down deep to edge out Girl in the Purple Shirt in the last few seconds before the finish, breaking through the pain that comes from not being able to let a single minute of the race go to waste. Whether you prefer short or long distances, it’s rewarding, fun and gratifying to explore other sources of motivation and satisfaction  in the sport.

  3. Against the grain
    There is no doubt that it’s a great feeling to surround yourself with people who are undertaking the same big goal you are, especially if it’s a marathon, and especially if it’s your first. It gives you a wonderful support system and sense of community.

    But I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s also nice to not be part of the crowd and to do your own thing. You might feel a little lonely and left out sometimes, but as a blog reader myself, I personally appreciate and look forward to the blogs that aren’t just about half and full marathons. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who is exploring another side of running. This winter, Heather was the only person I know training for a short distance (5K), and I loved reading about her training because it was so different than anything I have done before and I learned a lot about the short distance preparation process.

  4. What comparison trap?
    The nice thing about training for a distance most other runners aren’t focused on is that it’s a lot harder to fall into the comparison trap. Why would I worry that Suzie Q Marathoner is running 20 more miles per week than I am, and why would she worry that I’m hitting faster paces in my workouts than she is? We are each developing different systems, and we have completely different goals and different training needs.
  5. Better feedback
    I love this comment Ali left on my blog recently in regards to a 10K racing season: “it will give you a chance to really see what your race pace is for a 10k consistently, not just in one magical race.” There are numerous reasons we shouldn’t judge our fitness and progress by one race performance, especially if it was affected by external factors outside our control. But the more we can race, the better able we are to draw conclusions about where our fitness stands and how well our training paid off, and the shorter the race, the more often our bodies can tolerate racing it.
  6. Overall fitness
    When you’re training for a longer distance, you have to run a lot (duh), leaving less time for other fitness activities. Even the most diligent cross/strength trainers I know confess to falling off the wagon in the depths of marathon training. And who can blame them?

    Enter the shorter distance training plan! Less overall mileage leaves you with more time (and energy) to work in cross training, strength training, yoga, and whatever other fitness-related things you enjoy. Not only can you do more of these things, you’re more likely to, as strength and overall fitness become increasingly important in shorter distances when you really have to rely on bursts of speed and power. Training for a 10K won’t set me up to run a killer half/full marathon or give me stellar aerobic endurance, but it will help me get in better overall shape.

    .2 Variety! .2 because this is baked into the overall fitness point – this type of training regimen allows for more variety. One of the things I really struggle with in long distance training is that I start to get bored with the monotony of running almost every day and keeping so many miles at the same slow steady pace. With short distance training I’ll still do long and easy running, but not as often, and I’ll have more time and energy to include other types of running workouts in addition to the cross and strength mentioned above. Plus, since I’ve never trained like this before, much of this will be new and novel for me. YAY!

 

I am going to be blogging a lot about my 10K training when I get back, which I’m pretty jazzed about. Since Laura is creating a custom plan for me, I’m not going to be sharing a ton of workout/pace/training details on here (and anyway I just don’t want to do that, since that kind of blogging is really not my style), but I am really excited to document my shorter-distance running and fitness life as much as possible.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a little bit of an agenda here as well. I flatter myself to hope that maybe I can inspire someone out there to take on shorter distances, much in the way Heather and Ali have inspired me. I hope that if my training is successful enough and my blogging about it is engaging enough, I can show you all that you don’t have to complete marathons or run gobs of miles to be a strong runner, and that pursuing the shorter distances can be just as interesting and worthwhile as training for half and full marathons. At the end of the day, we all have our preferences. But I think we can all agree that the blogging world could use a lot more representation from the sub-13.1 club, so let’s make it happen!

 

So what do you say – have I convinced you to take on shorter distances yet??

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28 thoughts on “6.2 reasons 10K training will ROCK!

    1. I was giving this some serious side-eye before I realized it was you and not some spammy stranger, LOL. Anyway you should totally resurrect your blog or create a new one cause you’d make a great running/life-ing blogger!

  1. It’s refreshing to see how excited you are for 10k training! Reading blogs about marathons right now is so nice…because it’s reminding me that I totally don’t want to be doing that right now! I think this is the perfect path to be on at the moment.

  2. I totally feel you on your first point. One of the biggest stressors of marathon training for me is knowing I have one shot annually to get it right (or at least right now – I probably *could* do more than one marathon in a year if I really wanted to. I just haven’t yet.), and I feel SO much pressure because of that. Pressure to stay healthy, pressure to have a good performance, pressure to sacrifice my future first born to the weather gods so it’s 50, overcast, dry, and not windy on race day (kidding on that one, but you get my point), and it’s awful! But with shorter distances, it’s not like that at all. I usually race a ton in March/April – the bulk of my racing takes place during those months, in fact – and it’s nice because if I have a lousy race one weekend, chances are I have another one coming up the next weekend, or the weekend after that, so it’s not the end of the world. It’s disappointing if I was going for a PR, for sure, but at least I have another chance later on to try again.

    1. Even if you do more than 1 a year, that’s still only two shots to get it right after pouring months of training into each one and if it doesn’t go right it’s hard not to feel like it was all a waste. But, that’s just sports – everybody works hard but somebody has to lose and no matter how hard you work there will be things outside your control. It’s a risk we all have to accept if we’re gonna do this. The flip side is that while you have more races/chances to PR in shorter distances, the thrill of finishing one will just never compare to the thrill of crossing a marathon finish line. We just have to choose one or the other, and that’s why I think it’s healthy to mix it up throughout the year, so you can experience both 🙂

  3. Excited to see what the 10K season holds for you! I know I’m on the opposite marathoner bandwagon, but I think this kind of thing could be just the key if I feel like racing next year in the spring/summer when I have a lot else going on.

    1. Thanks! Short distances are great for the time-crunched runner who still wants race success. It’s still a lot of work – anything that you want optimum performance in is going to require that – but with lower mileage and shorter long runs you can train hard and still have a life!

  4. I’m so excited to train you! I know that you will thrive at the 10K. I do want to try my hand (feet?) at 10Ks sometime, although it’s a bit harder out here to find a 10K that isn’t a trail race with crazy elevation. Although that could be quite fun in its own right…
    Anyway, the shorter races are almost more intimidating, I think, because you need to do that hard, hard speed work and then just gut it out for 3.1 or 6.2 miles. 5Ks scare me, but I’d also love to knock out a sub-20 min 5K someday. So hopefully you can inspire other runners to get over the fear of running fast and hard!

    1. We definitely are lucky here with an abundance of 10Ks (during the fall/winter anyway), but there are other distances I wish were more common like the 10-miler. We also don’t have a lot of fall half marathons, which is RIDICULOUS (there isn’t a single road half, and only one trail, in a 50 mile radius in October! WTF!). When I was contemplating a goal half for the fall I was researching races in the fall that were both local-ish and flat and I couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. For a HALF MARATHON! In peak racing season!

      I also have a life goal of running a sub-20 5K but I’m just not sure I’ll ever be that fast. The sub-20 is kinda like the sub-2 hr half and the BQ marathon: the pipe dream of every runner

  5. Thanks so much for the lovely shout out. Sometimes it felt so strange to be putting so much effort into a 5k when so many runners consider them easy/”just a 5k.” But it was so worth it for that PR come race day.

    I think you are going to kick ass at the 10k. I can not wait for August so I can start following your training.

    1. Thanks Heather. I admit, I used to wonder how I could devote an entire training to the 5K – not because I harbored any illusions about the 5K being “easy”, but because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about my short distance times. But, obviously, interests have changed. And I think that’s healthy. There’s so much you’ll never know or experience about the sport if you’re constantly doing the same thing over and over. Even elites who specialize in long or short distances mix it up every now and then.

  6. It’s exciting to see how excited you are! The “more racing” thing is a big one. It’s SO much pressure to have everything riding on one single day and one single performance. That’s one of the reasons I’m going to focus on shorter events next year too. I hate the idea of everything riding on one single day!

    1. Thanks, and I agree. If your one race doesn’t go well it’s hard not to feel like the months of training were a waste. I guess that’s what we all get for being such success-junkies. 🙂

      Not until next year? What are your plans for the fall?

      1. I haven’t decided yet… my shorter races next year will be shorter triathlons (with shorter running races sprinkled in). I may do some short running races in the fall, but I don’t want to commit to anything until I see how I feel after the Ironman because then I’ll feel obligated! And I’m still figuring out what I’ll focus on during the winter. I kind of want to continue to explore the 5k thing, but I also kind of want to work on swimming faster(er) and maybe do some swim meets.

        SO MANY OPTIONS. 🙂

  7. Totally on board except I need to get a good marathon under my belt first lol.

    Back when wife and I started running i was dedicated to the 5k distance. Not a big deal for track stars but I got down to a 20 min 5k and thought it was amazing. I was shooting for a sub 20 min 5k before I started marathons. I always thought shirt distances were super fun.

    1. Well maybe another round at shorter distances would help you get ready for that next marathon attempt 🙂

  8. Yes to all this! I’ve only done a single 10k and would love to put some effort toward yet, as well as the 5k. I love the idea of doing multiple races but 10ks aren’t very common here. I’d need to look into my options. But I definitely plan to devote time to sorter distance training. Maybe next spring!

    1. Yeah, we are lucky that 10Ks are fairly common here, mostly because there is an organization that does a winter series of 6 5k/10k races from Oct-March. One distance I wish was more common here is the 10 mile. There is only one 10 mile race in this area all year long. I wish there were more of them because I bet there are a lot of runners who would like to do a double-digit race but don’t want to do a half marathon.

  9. The 10K is really uncharted territory for me, but really, so is the 5K & so is lots of racing in a year versus one or two big races. But, I like the idea of having a race cluster. I often get myself so psyched up // out for a race that ends up not going well & I feel like I’ve blown it. So, I’m excited to see how you feel about the cluster.

    And how you feel about working with a coach. I’ve toyed with the idea. Haven’t taken the plunge, but I feel like that’s something on the horizon for sure.

    And see you tomorrow for coffee!

    1. Same here, if a race doesn’t go well it’s hard not to feel like all those months of training were a waste, and if a race goes way better than expected cause I had a perfect day, it’s easy to feel like I’m suddenly Shalane Flanagan and don’t have to work hard to maintain that level of fitness anymore.

      And yes, excited to see you tomorrow!

  10. I love all your points about this! I’ve actually never raced a 10k! I’ve done lots of 5ks and 8ks but for some reason there aren’t a whole lot of 10ks around us. You’re so right about literally everything here and maybe the rest of this summer I’ll focus on training for a smaller race. For some reason I get in my head that “I don’t need to train for 6.2 miles, I know I can do it.” But like.. training for anything will make you better/faster/stronger so you have inspired me:)

    1. Aw thank you! It’s true that most of us don’t need to train for 10Ks just to be able to do them, but RACING them is another story. We can run anything up to 13.1 without much training, and maybe even run them fast if we’re having a good day, but you’ll never know your true potential in a distance without training specifically for it. It’s fun to think about how fast you could run with some focused training!

  11. Enjoy your training 🙂 I trained for a 10K a few years ago and really enjoyed the shorter speed workouts and had fun running faster than ever for me 🙂 I also crashed and burned a few times during training runs lol the shorts ones can be tough too, but it all taught me how to find that sustainable pace. Enjoy July!

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