Take Two: Run a Faster 5k

Running has not yet been a competition sport for me. Some runners feel like they’re competing with themselves when they push to a new distance or a new time, but I don’t feel that way. I feel a little bit of something to prove on race day, but training hasn’t ever felt like that for me. I run primarily for the feeling when I’m done, that elusive runner’s high, and the pride that came with completing longer distances.

Lauren Fleshman’s article in June’s Runner’s World has me fired up though. Fleshman is a professional runner, who first came to my attention through her sponsor, Oiselle. In her piece, she challenges our commonly held belief that the runner challenges herself by running further distances. I know that feeling! All I could think about mere hours after the half-marathon was what would be next: Well, now that you’ve run a half – when are you going to run the full thing?

Fleshman talks up the competitive nature of shorter races. The 5k race, she writes, “is freaking awesome,” and her arguments are compelling. It’s not a question of if you’ll finish, but how fast can you run the race. It’s not as time-consuming to train for the 5k and you can race more often. Consistent and shorter runs are better for overall health than long distance training, as well. And, ultimately the most persuasive for me, there is less risk of injury.

Look, it took me two full weeks to recover from my half-marathon. The race was simply too hard on my body. While this is likely overwhelmingly due to under-training, there is something just punishing about running for two hours and forty minutes. (If I were faster, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad…) And that recovery was painful and time consuming. Walking slower (some may call it “hobbling” around the city), so much icing and resting. Today, 17 days later, is the first day I did any real running since the race.

It was a great run though – just look at that view!

Of course, the half-marathon was worth it. I don’t regret any of it and I will do it again. But maybe running can be more fun that it has been in the last few months. If there’s any way to it, I think Fleshman’s advice will get me there: find the competition in the 5k.

What are your running goals? Any upcoming races?