Thirsty (for knowledge) Thursday: Don't Poo-Poo The 5K

>> Thursday, April 23, 2015

Today's "Thirsty Thursday" is taking a bit of a different angle than normal. Today's post isn't about the latest in exercise science or some new/awesome workout. It's a bit of writing about 5Ks that I thought was worth sharing.

I love Lauren Fleshman (2x US 5000 Champ with a 14:58 PR). She's a sassy professional runner who tells things like it is. Last year, she wrote an article for Runner's World about her push to renew "the love" for 5Ks. In the first part of the article she highlights a story of her talking with another runner (who didn't know her status as a runner) who didn't seem impressed that she "just" runs 5Ks. She was told "Keep at it, you'll get there." Oy. If he only knew who he was talking to.

Lauren goes on to write this, and I totally agree with it:

With a growing obsession over distance races, and a focus on completion rather than competition, 5-Ks have somehow lost a lot of their badassiness. They have become little more than a gateway drug for marathons. The prevailing mentality is to go longer and longer and longer, until one day you find yourself down six toe-nails, dressed head to toe in compression gear, contemplating your first 50-K ultra over a morning bowl of chia seeds. Stop! Listen to me.

The 5-K is freaking awesome. It encourages you to develop a combination of endurance, speed, and strength. You can train for it and still have a life. You can race one every weekend and still be able to walk normally. If people ran more 5-Ks, I'm positive the average life satisfaction of humans would increase dramatically.

Then Fleshman offers these 10 reasons why you should devote some time to focusing on the 5K:

10. Fitness

Shorter interval work is more effective than long-distance runs for weight management and gaining fitness. Interval training won't set you up to run a great marathon, but it will make you a baller at the 5-K, an event that requires strength, speed, power, and endurance combined. By making the 5-K your focus, your training plan will actually line up with what's best for your overall health. Excuse me, what? Yes.

9. Travel

With 5-Ks being readily available within driving distance, you don't have to fly around the country to do one. Racing is a cool excuse to travel, but you know what's even better? Traveling without racing. You can actually walk places and see things without limping, eat whatever you want, and spend a significantly smaller portion of your trip on the toilet.

8. Doctors' Bills

Overuse injuries go hand in hand with marathon training. Sure, you can get injured doing 5-Ks too, but with less overall mileage and workouts that involve a greater variety of paces, you'll be more likely to stay healthy. More running days per year = happy runners with more money = a healthy global economy = World Peace.

7. Free Time

What will you do with your weekends when you aren't destroyed from running three-and-a-half hours?

6. Nipple Health

There is no nipple bleeding.

5. Budget

5-Ks are cheaper, and you still get a stale bagel and a green banana and only have to run one-eighth as far.

4. Competition vs. Completion

The satisfaction in a marathon comes with completion under duress. You reach the point where you aren't sure you will finish, and then somehow you do. It's an amazing feeling, but it's only one way to experience racing. In a 5-K, you know that you are going to finish. Satisfaction comes instead from competing: against yourself, the clock, and others in an intense, concentrated period of time. This adds a whole new depth and richness to your running, regardless of your speed.

3. Mulligans

Getting derailed in a marathon due to inclement weather, travel mishaps, poo-poo problems, or just having an off day can cost you 16 weeks of training and traveling somewhere far away for another attempt. If you screw up the 5-K, you can just get in your car and try again next week. Boom.

2. The Humanity

When you hit the wall in a 5-K, it hurts a lot, but it's over faster than it takes to make a cappuccino. Literally. I timed it.

1. Style

No fuel belts. No water bottles. No gels or blocks or powders or bars. No shorts with 30 pockets. No Vaseline stains. You can run a 5-K in jorts with nary a chafe. 5-K for the win. Who's with me?

I have a few comments on Lauren's points:

#8: I've learned that I get injured from too much speed work, but I'm OK with moderate levels of endurance work. Just know your body.

#6: I once found a way to destroy my nipples in a 5K. If you're newer to my blog, make sure to check out that link. (That was a different time - I'm now over 2 mins faster.)

#4: This is a really, really good point, but it's also not for everyone. I'm proud that I've finished an Ironman, but I'm not proud of my time. (Whenever I do my next Ironman, I'd like to take 2 or 3 hours off my time.) I'm probably more proud of working hard to hit my 17:11 5K PR and my 59:05 10 Mile PR - things I really had to suffer for. I like how Fleshman wrote about this. (However, my wife isn't as speedy, but she loves to finish longer races, so I can see the other point-of-view here too: she's done 2 Ironmans, around 10 half Ironmans, and something like 15 marathons.)

#2: Very much agree! I like to suffer hard, but get it over quick. (There's a bedroom joke in there somewhere.)

RELATED: A lot of people really started to like Lauren after she wrote a very "real" blog post back in November of 2013 shortly after giving birth. In it, she showed a pic of her modeling some new Oiselle running gear, along with some more "natural," casual photos from later that same week:

"Turbo-flexed" and sucked in as she puts it.

She said she doesn't actually recommend squeezing your inner thigh.

HERE'S her original post about body issues, and HERE'S a great follow-up that she wrote for Runner's World talking about how hard it was for her to write that first post. It'll all make you love Lauren.

For more "Thirsty Thursday" posts that discuss workouts, body science, and all kinds of interesting information, CLICK HERE.


Gina Welc 11:47 AM, April 23, 2015  

This is great! I've been re-training in short stuff last year and this year and am LOVING the 5K! It's no joke!

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