Just a 5K race

by Julie on April 29, 2010

in Uncategorized

Around mile 8 of the George Washington Parkway Classic (recap here and video here), I met a girl who looked like she was doing well with her running. This is how our conversation went:

Me: “How’s it going?”

Her: “It’s going well. I’ve ran the whole way so far and haven’t stopped!”

Me: “Wow! Congrats – that’s awesome. I’ve taken a few walking breaks.”

Her: “Is this your first race?”

Me: “No, it’s my forth (two 5K’s and a 10-miler)

Her: “This is my first.”

Me: “Awesome! That’s really exciting.”

Her: “Yea, I mean, I’ve done a bunch of smaller races before but this is my first long race.”

At that point, we quickly finished up our conversation, said our “good luck’s” and I ran ahead thinking profoundly about what she said. To this girl, a “small race” which I guess she meant around a 5K distance, wasn’t an actual “race.” When she asked me how many races I completed, I confidently said 4 without a second thought to how far they were. Now, if she were to ask me if this was my first long race, I’d say it was my second.

Does running long race say how worthy you are as a runner? Are you looked up to more if you focus on improving your longer distance races than your shorter races? Are short races not considered races? I would hope not! I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. Mostly, because when I finish my half marathon this weekend, I’ll have a clean slate in front of me. No other races are on my calendar yet and people always ask me if I’d want to do a marathon. What would be my motivation? To please other people or myself? What if I’m content focusing on running 5K’s and 10K’s the rest of my life? Surely, they are cheaper and in my opinion, they don’t make you less fit than anyone else who runs marathons. It’s all in perspective.

I just think that in the blog and real world, we need to celebrate each other no matter how far we run. For example, I try to refrain from using the word “only” when saying I am off for a 3 mile run via Twitter. To a new runner, which sounds better?

“I finished 3-miles today!”

“I only finished 3-miles today!”

We need to celebrate running ALL distances even if it’s starting the Couch to 5K program. Running a 90-seconds is huge to some people. It was huge to me when I first started and it still is. :-)

Have a great Thursday!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Akirah April 29, 2010 at 9:12 am

Aww…I’m not a runner, but I love this. I love you. You are so positive and that’s so necessary in this world. Your passion makes running much less intimidating to me. Thanks friend!
.-= Akirah´s last blog ..Did You Know… =-.


Erica @ Fashion meets Food April 29, 2010 at 9:16 am

With being a new runner when I hear people say “I only ran 3 miles today” I’m like ONLY! I am just training myself to run these miles without absolutely dying. It gets to be annoying for someone who is trying and kind of like eh 3 miles that’s like walking for me. But maybe that is just me. I have never been a runner…. when I ran a 5K trail in 23 minutes I was completely jazzed only to find out that’s pretty horrible and to get told that the “big” people on Biggest Loser run that time.



Corinne April 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

I completely agree. I think you running should be a direct result of what YOU want to do. If you think you will find gratification out of running a marathon, then go for it! But if you are doing only because it’s expected, or being a “runner” means you run marathons, then why do it; stick to the things that you find fun, gratifying, and enjoyable. I know I get envious of those runners at the gym that run non-stop for a hour while I’m doing my interval running, but I’ve gotten to the point where I just focus on me – how i’m feeling during and after my workout.
Happy Thursday!


Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) April 29, 2010 at 10:33 am

I am totally guilty of this. I am a new runner and 3 miles is pretty impressive for me! But I get embarassed to brag about myself especially since my dad is a marathon runner. Sometimes I forget that it’s okay to be new at something!


USCEmily April 29, 2010 at 11:36 am

Thank you for this post, Julie! For me, funning a 5k is a great accomplishment. I have never been a great runner and if I run and finish a 5k running the whole time, I’m proud of myself. Granted, it takes me 35 minutes to do it, but that’s okay. Sometimes I feel like it’s not a great accomplishment when I compare it to other people who are running much faster and much farther. But, what matters in the end, like you said, is that you get out there and run!
.-= USCEmily´s last blog ..I’ve reverted back to high school =-.


Eunice April 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I gotta admit, it’s a little discouraging when people say things like “only a 3 mile run”, etc, etc. I’m working up to 3 miles and there is nothing “only” about it! In my book, every race counts, no matter how long or short it is. Thank you for keeping this in mind when you blog/tweet. It’s encouraging to us beginners. :)


Lori April 29, 2010 at 9:05 pm

I am so glad you posted this!! I believe 5K’s are important! I realized that I could use 5K’s to help me improve my time, plus they are SO fun to run!! I hesitate to brag on myself anymore about running “only” 3 miles but really when I ran the shorter distances is when I got to within 4 pounds of my goal weight and when I started training for my 1/2 marathon is when I packed on 20 lbs. So I’m thinking scale it back, lose weight again and then figure out if I want the challenge of another long race.
Have a wonderful weekend!!


Sara April 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

While it is true sometimes I do say “oh I ONLY ran three miles yesterday” I in no way mean it to discourage people who are still working their way up to that distance or for whom that is a major accomplishment. I can completely recognize the hard work that goes into achieving a goal no matter how long the distance or fast the speed.
There will always be someone faster, but there will alway be someone slower. There will always be someone who has run father, but there will always be someone who has not run at all.
I think it is all relative and as long as you are proud of yourself and happy that is all that matters.


Kali April 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Running a 5K is an accomplishment whether it takes you 45 minutes or 20 minutes. A lot of runners say that the only difference between a runner and a jogger is an entry blank. Running is all about your own goals and your own personal bests. The majority of recreational runners will never win a race and what you have to realize is you’re out there running your own race. The only time that’s important about beating is your last best time, nobody else’s. And that girl sounds like a snob, lol.
.-= Kali´s last blog ..sharing? =-.


MegaNerd April 30, 2010 at 7:37 am

I love how you turned the “I only ran 3 miles” into a positive “I ran three miles, yay!”. I literally said this to myself yesterday (“I can’t run more than 3 miles, i suck.”)

Thanks for your positivity :D You reminded me that it doesn’t matter how far you run, just that you run! running a 5k is something many people can’t do, and we should be proud that we can!


Tracy April 30, 2010 at 8:52 am

I have been running for years… I’ve completed a few races and still when running 3 miles, I don’t feel like there should be a “only” or “just” involved. Running at all is a gift, and I won’t ever take that for granted. I know many other runners, and read many running blogs and I often see when milegae is under 5 that, “this was an easy 4 miles”, “only 2 miles at 7:30 minute pace”, “only 3 mile tempo for the past 4 days”.

I think to myself, OMG really? You are running… fast… a lot… that should be enough! :)

BE PROUD of yourself no matter how far, how fast, when, where, why you run.


LiLu April 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Well said. It makes me want to punch myself in the face when someone’s all, “I couldn’t finish my 43 mile long run this weekend!”
.-= LiLu´s last blog ..Life Just Got Better. (AKA, More Burrito-y.) =-.


Natalie @ Keep It Sassy April 30, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I’m so glad you posted this! As a (for the fourth time now) new runner, I think ANY distance is an accomplishment. And sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that so we don’t get caught up in the “only” or the “justs” of it all.


Robin/Orlando Turtle Runner April 30, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Such an inspiring perspective you share….

I find this interesting, too, and believe you make an excellent point. We all start at the beginning. What our ultimate goal is may or may not change over time, but it’s OUR own individual goal. I personally have no desire (yet? ever?) to run a full marathon. And I’m a slow runner. And will remain a slow runner. I’m totally okay with that. I’m also over 40, a non-athlete all of my life, and diabetic. These things define me as a runner.

ALL of my races count: 5Ks, 10Ks, and one half marathon (Disney Princess Half in early March). Distance is interesting, because I’ve learned that the accepted ‘protocol’ is that one runs the shorter distances faster and the longer distance slightly slower. As a self-described slow runner, I lean toward the half marathon distance: long enough to kick my butt, but short enough to do (just takes me forever!!). 5Ks are my least favorite because I do run them slower than most, but that’s ok with me. I remember commenting on someone’s blog about her comment of, “Oh, I’m going out for a quick 10 miler” and I thought, “Dear God, I’d die!” LOL… Then, when I finally reached that distance, I knew I could do it. But the first (okay, two) week(s) of running was to the end of the block …!!

.-= Robin/Orlando Turtle Runner´s last blog ..TGIF! Ummmm……Take II?! =-.


steph anne May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I’m curious how many breaks do you usually take when running 5k and 10k?
.-= steph anne´s last blog ..Canvas: Modern to Beach Theme =-.


Julie May 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Hey girl! On 5K’s, I usually take no breaks and same with 10K’s (although, I’ve never run a 10K race… just fun runs). However, if I need a walking break, I see no harm in that so I’ll take them as my body requests.


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