Apr 23 2012
Many runners, young and old, have gotten into the world of running recently. They are jumping right into training and running in half marathons and marathons and not looking back. After all, the marathon is the sweetheart to distance, much like the 100 meters is to sprinting. But there might be several reasons to slow down and enjoy a more gradual entry into the running arena. Sometimes a relationship of running is best built like any relationship in life-slowly and over time. Here are some good reasons to take in at least one or two seasons of only 5K’s.
It is the start of a good foundation. By training for a solid 3-4 months of 25-30 or so miles per week, your body is adjusting and easing into running. Tendons and ligaments are adjusting to stress. Your muscles are learning how to handle a lower mileage level but with slightly more intensity-a nice start to a base foundation. This foundation of miles will prepare you for bigger and better things down the road.
It is easier to train for. Training for a marathon often takes up half of your day towards the end and then you have to deal with recovery as well. Sometimes its hard to deal with family, work, schedules etc. to fit the training in for a marathon. Long runs must be planned and you may have to drive distances for an ideal workout location. It’s much easier to head out for 30-40 minutes on those busy days when you don’t have all day to devote to running.
It’s easier on the piggy bank. Lets face it. Marathon and half marathon races are getting more and more expensive. And often you have to travel and stay in hotels to get to your favorite ones. You can use the fee for one of these races to run in several 5K’s that are in your area or much closer by.
It’s easier on your social book. Chances are the number of friends in your social circle that have run marathons are a lot less than those that might be willing to try a 5K or that would join you for a jog around the neighborhood. Many people are interested in doing short “fun runs” and 5K fund raisers now-a-days. You can introduce them to the long run later, after they’ve gotten the running bug and built up a base.
You will stay mentally fresh. Keeping your race face on during short bouts of racing will be easier and will sharpen your mental racing skills. Getting through those long runs often is a game of “what can we find next to keep the focus going.” Sometimes breaks are good.
It lets your body ease in to racing. Recovery from long runs and racing marathons can be longer and difficult. Racing 5K’s several weekends in a row or with a few weeks in between doesn’t call for major tapering or recovery and is how most high school and college runners started out training. With 5K’s, minor injuries can heal, and recovery from racing and workouts are quick.
It gives you a chance to see what type of runner you are. This is by far the most important reason. Most elite runners start out running the mile or 5K and take up the longer distances later in their career. Runners who start later (after high school) often have not been running long enough to really test their abilities and determine where they stand in the world of genetics. Are they a sprinter trying to run distance casually? Do they excel at mid. distance (mile to 5K)? Can they move up to the marathon with some solid training or even consider ultra-distance in the future? Understanding your unique balance of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle make up and how you respond to different types of training is the first thing you should determine when putting together an optimal training plan for any race distance. If you haven’t done this, you may have left out the most crucial piece of training for any future race and won’t maximize your workouts.
So head out and sign up for a group of 5K’s for the summer or fall, get a look at what you are made of and your training will be headed in the right direction.