Today, I realized something: running a 5K sucks. I think I hate it.
Every day that I head outside to run, I have to find additional motivation beyond just getting off my lazy tail and lacing up my Asics. Every single day, I have to remind myself that I’m not just running a 5K, that I’m training and working toward something (a half-marathon in addition to better health and fitness), and that I’m eventually going to enjoy my run.
And the more I think about it, I think I’ve figured out why running a 5K sucks:
Because 5Ks are too short.
A year ago, I’d have laughed in your face if you told me I’d ever think that running 3.1 miles was too short. Because a year ago, I couldn’t do it. The distance was almost overwhelming to think about.
But now I can run it, I hate it. I hate it because as much as I love running and how running makes me feel, I never enjoy the actual 5K distance. 5K races, sure–the events are awesome.
But not the distance itself.
Running a 5K tends to go like this: muscles ache because they’re not warmed up yet, lungs burn from sucking in the air, and by the time you get into a groove and start to feel like you’re doing okay…you’ve crossed the finish line (or finished the training session or whatever).
When you’re running a 5K, there’s barely enough time to spark up the endorphins (and their Big Daddy counterparts, endocannabinoids) to reach the euphoria granted by the runner’s high.
By the time your body starts to acclimate and adapt to the strain you’re putting on it, you’re not putting that stress on it anymore.
However, there’s a reason that 5K is the go-to a race distance for most people: it’s achievable.
It’s a long enough distance to be a challenge, yet a short enough distance to be doable.
Think of the 5K as the gateway drug of the running world. It hooks you on the sport, the fun, the camaraderie the sense of accomplishment, and when you’re hooked, you try to push into a new distance–a 10K or a half-marathon.
And before you know it, you’re an addict.
When you’re not running, you’re thinking about running. You’re losing weight and feeling better. And when you are running, your muscles aren’t aching as much, and your lungs don’t scream for air. You get the runner’s high as you push into mile 5 or 6 of your long-run.
All because someone, somewhere, told you that running a 5K was awesome.
In All Seriousness
Really, though, the 5K distance is a great gateway to running. But I do still dread those first few miles of every run. They were awesome at first because they were new and exciting, but the more I begin to push into longer distances, I see how much they really and truly suck.
And they don’t suck on their own. They only suck because of how much better and exciting the later miles are.
So when someone tells you that a 5K is awesome, you send them to me, would ya?