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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!