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.

At Penn Relays/ WE ARE SO SMALL

At Penn Relays/ WE ARE SO SMALL

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 EVERI 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. 


Here is the picture NYRuns got of my arm at the finish. At least I beat this dudeman.


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.

Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 12.41.11 PM


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? (: 

About Laura

marketing director at Possible. formerly at Greatist. Still running, finding zen, and searching for the perfect bloody mary.

Posted on May 24, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. There’s the Bronx 10-Miler at the end of September! And the Battle of Brooklyn 10-Miler in August…though that one is 3 loops of Prospect Park. I’m considering running it as a relay if I can get two people to sign up with me (hint, hint!).

  2. I’ve done several 10 milers, and am doing the fabulous 15K Boilermaker in July if you’d like to come? Ends at a brewery and is a TON of fun 🙂

  3. I grew up on the track and the 800 was my distance. I quit the XC team as a freshman because I thought it was torture running that far. Then about 10 years out of school, I found myself running again. 7 marathons and too many half marathons and other road races to count later, here I am. I love running. As far as distance… I hate 10Ks. To me, they are one of the hardest races! It’s like twice the pain of a 5K. I do like 5Ks. I love the half marathon distance. Do I love marathons? Not really, but I want to run Boston again and I want my 10th marathon to be a big one, like London or something, then I’m hanging up my marathon shoes!

  4. “constantly sore and starving” yep, that about sums it up. And I’m wondering why my answer is still 26.2? Gahhh. I will say though, I love half marathons too. Most hated distance lately is 10K!

  5. I think your sweet spot is ALL OF THE RACES.

    ALSO – 2nd in your age group!?!? WHAT!!! Amazing.

    Also – I do recall you saying after the 5K – “That was so much fun!” so whatever race you have fun in – I think that is your sweet spot.

  6. Wow, go you, 2nd in your age group! I’m still at the point of being excited at just completing races, now I really need to start focusing on some speed!

    I’ve actually never done a 5k or 10k race, I really need to! I like 1/2’s for the challenge of improving my time, but I actually do enjoy training for and completing a full, it’s amazing to me every time that I can do it!

  7. I haven’t done a 5k in a while. Way to be speedy and finish 2nd in your AG! But I really like the half marathon distance. Seems to be a good amount of training and feeling accomplished afterward, but not as time intensive as a marathon.

  8. for sure the 1/2 marathon-for the same reasons as you. Can get controlled pace, and push when you need to. I also enjoy running them “for fun.” I hate the 5k. It doesn’t agree with my asthma.

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