Some runners like the distance races. Other runners prefer the shorter races. Me? I enjoy the challenges of all the different distances I’ve tried.
In some ways it seems runners either love or hate the 5k. Short — but still challenging. You can’t go out too fast or you’ll most likely be dying (and maybe slowing down) in that last mile. If you care about your finish time, you also can’t go out too slow — or you might never be able to make up the time.
Where the 5k is most challenging, I think, is that if you’re racing it, you actually do have to start out fast — but not too fast! — and maintain, or even increase the pace.
Although I carry water for races (and runs) of every distance, most of the time you can get away without it. There’s usually an aid station or two (three if you’re lucky!). It’s also not necessary to fuel during a 5k, so you don’t have to carry as much with you as you do in some of the longer races.
The 10k can seem very intimidating to the novice runner/racer. At least for me it was! That’s part of the allure, though, you’re going longer. You really don’t want to start a 10k too fast — it will definitely come back to haunt you.
I definitely want to carry my own water for a 10k — for me, it’s a race that’s over an hour. Most runners will not need to carry fuel, though, and that, again, lightens the load.
It can be more difficult to pace yourself. It’s not just running two 5ks. You need to pace yourself in the first 5k so that you have gas left for that second 5k.
Everyone’s racing needs are different. I need to carry both water and fuel for a 15k. Not much fuel, but I know that I’ll have a better race if I have a little something something during the race.
The 15k is the entry into the longer distances. I didn’t run a 15k until I had run many halfs, but it would make a nice training race for someone training for a half.
What I like about the 15k is that it’s long enough to be challenging, but not so long that you can’t recover from the effort fairly quickly. That could be said of almost every race distance up to the marathon distance, though!
The Half Marathon
The half marathon gives you some bragging rights, but it doesn’t wipe you out like a marathon (or so I assume, anyway, having never actually run a marathon). For many runners this is where you enter the multi-hour race. For BOTPers, you can be out there 3 hours or more.
I distinctly remember thinking during my first 10k that I was going to run twice that long in my first half marathon?! It seemed nuts!
You need to take your hydration and your fueling for a half marathon seriously. I know some runners who will run a half marathon with no fuel at all, but it’s not recommended for most people. You need to practice your fueling strategy well in advance of your race — although I often see posts from people wondering how they should fuel during their upcoming half (and just shake my head).
Once you’re an experienced runner, though, you can usually bounce back from a half marathon fairly quickly — which is one of the nice differences between the half and the full marathon distance. The same might be said of the marathon, once you’re an experienced marathoner — but it’s still a very long way to go and you should really take your recovery seriously.
The other distances
Races come in all shapes and sizes, it seems. I’ve run 3.5 milers, 4 milers, 5 milers, and an 18 mile race in addition to many 5ks, some 10ks, and a few 15ks. There are 1 milers (haven’t run one) and 10 milers too (haven’t run one of those, either).
I like the different challenges of pretty much all the races I’ve tried so far.
As you race and train for certain distances, your body will adapt to that distance. It will never feel as hard as the first one, except for those rogue bad races. You’ll be able to recover much quicker than you did from your first. As you age, though, recovery can take longer. It should take longer!
There are runners who only want to race 5ks. They don’t ever want to go longer. There are runners who never race at all! You don’t have to be a racer to be a runner.
The actual question posed this week was whether or not we prefer short or long runs. Like racing distances, I think both have their pluses and minuses. I can tell you that right now, I’m happy with my shorter runs — although as Winter recedes and Spring comes in, I will be looking to slowly increase my long-er runs to hopefully an actual long run. All depends on what’s going on in my life!
What about you — short or long or both?
This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.