the perfect distance
In High School, I swore off any distance over 800 meters. I loved leading off our team’s 4×400 and held the school record in the 100m and 200m (no joke). I ran countless 5K’s but was barely good at them. I did long jump and triple jump. And I’ve never raced a mile.
Then I went to college and stopped racing for six years. And I honestly thought I was done with it forever.
Welp, in the past year, I’ve run two marathons, two half-marathons, and a handful of shorter road races, trying to figure out what my distance is. Am I a track runner or a marathon runner? Do my strengths lie in speed workouts or long runs? And most importantly, what do I enjoy the most? What race makes me push beyond my limits, has me vom city at the finish, and eager to sign up and do it all over again?
The answer is I’m not sure. But I’m trying to figure it out. Here’s what I got so far:
400m- This was what I loved. I ran my first 400m race as a freshman in heavy trainers and squeezed out a 67.xx time. This is when my coach “noticed” me and deemed me a middle distance runner with “potential.” I chased sub-60 for the rest of my HS days and finally hit it. 400’s are no joke – it’s an all-out sprint for 300 more meters than you’d like. But it’s exhilarating. And all over and done with in a minute.
800m – I truly think this is the hardest track distance. Considered a “controlled-sprint,” you are racing your ass off for two very long trips around the track. I didn’t love the 800 but I was fairly decent at them. Yet back in the day I considered 800’s “too long” a distance. Little did I know..
Mile- The last time I raced a mile was in 7th grade. I had run 7:13 in PE class and was pissed, so had my friend Sean “pace” me to a sub-7. (Yes…competitive with myself at age 13.) He helped me run a 6:43 and I was stoked. Since then, I have never run my little heart out for 4 laps around the track.
5K- The 5K was my nemesis in HS. Everyone on the track team kinda just “did” cross country, and I thought they were the longest races EVER. I somehow managed to run 20:05 once as a sophomore, and haven’t seen 20:xx since. I was actually unreasonable nervous for the Summer 5K this week, since it was my first time trying to “run fast” in a 5K in forever, and was coming off of no speed training. To my surprise, I ran a 21:22, and came 2nd in my AG. I was pleased with my splits (7:00, 6:45, 6:53) yet was reminded how painful 5Ks are from the get-go. Shorter does not equal easier.
10K- I’ve never raced a 10K, and a lot of people have told me “I hate 10Ks!” and “I think this is your race!” So I’m going to sign up for one and try it out.
10 miler- And if not the 10K, then maybe the 10 miler…though I have no idea how to run one. (Like a 10K and hold on for dear life, or like a half-marathon with a little more spring in the legs?) Unfortunately 10-mile races don’t pop up too often/ever?
Half-marathon- I think I had too much fun at the Brooklyn Half. Clearly I wasn’t “racing it,” but I love that the pace is controlled, but pretty fast, with enough time to make moves, make up for lost time, and get a few miles in before that feeling of fatigue shows up. Since I also do enjoy some distance work (10-mile training runs are great) maybe this is where my running heart lies.
Marathon- Marathons fall into a different category all together. As rewarding as they are, I learned that I just don’t love the training for them. And you can’t force someone to love weekend long runs and feeling constantly sore and starving…right? But damn sub 3:30, 3:25, 3:20…I want you.
Ultra- The only way I’d ever run more that 26.2 miles is if I had just read Born to Run for the 18th time next to a “sign up now!” screen or if someone gave me $10,000. Or maybe both.
So that’s all I have….aaaand it looks like somewhere in the 6.2-13.1 distance holds my sweet spot. Maybe. We’ll see. Until then…WHAT IS YOUR FAVE DISTANCE & WHY? (: