Originally posted on Saltyrunning on June 4, 2014.

I will admit that I did not always respect the 5K. I think I did when I first started running, but recently I discovered that I had turned into a running snob. You know, one of those people who only run certain distances because anything else is beneath them. I run a 10 miler every weekend. I run marathons, half marathons, 10Ks, and blah blah blah. Any less than 3 miles and I won’t even lace up my shoes!  So why would I even bother signing up for a 5K?

It seemed like such an insignificant distance when I registered for the 11th Annual Mom’s run and no, I did not train for it, because who needs to train for a piddly little 5k?  Certainly not a marathon veteran like me, right?  Wrong.

Contrary to my approach, running a 5K is not all that easy. Sure, it’s “only” 3.1 miles but there is no time to ease into a race pace. In longer races you have time to get your legs warmed up and can take your time to get a second wind if necessary. Not in a 5K. Of course I could have just leisurely strolled along in grand snobbery style, but that did not happen.

As soon as I heard the blast of the air horn I took off. There was no time to adjust anything:  I didn’t have time to start my watch, I didn’t have time to think about my strategy… Okay, let’s be honest; I had no strategy. But if I did I would not have had time to implement it since I did not prepare for this race.

When I finished I wanted to throw up. At the time I blamed it on the weather. It was a bit warm, I went out too fast and there were a host of other excuses.  But the truth was that it was so hard because I did not train for it. Honestly it was one of the hardest races of my life.  I am no longer a running snob.

Somehow, some way, I ended up placing third in my age group. For a hot moment I thought that maybe the faster runners were out of town, but then I began to imagine what might have happened if I took that race seriously and actually trained–the glory of a win?  Maybe even a nice prize?

I am not sure I will do another one any time soon, but if I do I will actually follow a training plan, hydrate well in advance, and pay attention to the time so I can set my watch. I may not ever place again, but I learned my lesson. I now respect the 5K.   It has its place just like all of the others.

How do you feel about the 5k?  Do you feel like it’s easy?  Have you ever trained for one?


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