Why 5Ks Are My Least Favorite

Hi everyone!  Last week I decided to sign up last minute for the Alaska Sea Life Center’s 5k Wildlife Rescue Run on Saturday.  It’s one of only 2 5Ks held in Seward all year, and I originally was bummed I couldn’t run it because I had to work.  The proceeds help rescue and rehabilitate sea animals in the Seward area and since my company works pretty closely with the Sea Life Center I was sad I couldn’t help out.  Last week my manager brought it up and asked me if I was running it.  I said of course not, since I had to work.  She then told me she’d give me some time off during the day to run it since she knows how much I love running!  At first I was really excited since I haven’t run a 5K since April.  But as the race day approached I realized that while I’ve been running a lot of long runs lately, I’m not really prepared for a fast and short 5K.

20140803-195756.jpgProbably the prettiest race course I’ve ever run!

The race started at 12:00 pm at the Sea Life Center and followed my usual waterfront running route out to the harbor and back again.  I did not like having a mid-day race because I’d already eaten breakfast and had no idea how to fuel for a race at that time of day!  I ended up eating my usual pre-race oatmeal at 10:30 since I felt weird breaking my race day food tradition.  It was a beautiful day for a race, although a bit warm (68 degrees!) and sunny since it was already noon.  I usually run at night when it’s cooler!  The race was run really well and there was tons of crowd support from both Alaska Sea Life Center employees and tourists who happened to be camping along the waterfront trail.  The finish line area was also decorated with chalk art congratulating us on finishing which was so cute!

20140803-195804.jpgAbout to finish!

The entire race my stomach was hurting and I was so hot.  I would have given anything for some shade!  I can honestly say I pushed as hard as I could but I still didn’t manage to break 30 minutes by a few seconds as usual.  My time got me in the top 75% of finishers, which was pretty good considering the fact that the entire front row at the starting line was made up of teenage track stars who were doing sprints before the race.  As I paced back and forth in the shade after the race to try to cool down and not puke, I realized something:  I don’t think I really like 5ks.  Why?

  1. I’m not fast.  And I hate trying to run fast.  It’s stressful and painful and my body hates it.  I can run a 10:00/mile pace no problem, but anything under that causes my stomach to hurt and my breathing to be all over the place.
  2. Everyone else is fast, and the race is so short that you don’t ever get the chance to catch up.  In half marathons you can start off slow and then pass lots of people at the end, but that’s rarely the case with a 5K.  It’s so mentally difficult pushing through the fact that you’re being passed by so many people that you won’t ever catch up to.
  3. You have no time to enjoy the scenery or live in the moment.  You have to push so hard that you can’t take any time to enjoy where you are and what you’re doing.
  4. It’s so hard to turn off all the negative “You need to slow down NOW” thoughts going through my brain.  When I only have a short amount of time to fight them off I find that I can’t do it.  I always try to stay positive but when my Garmin is telling me to hurry up or I won’t get there under 30 minutes yet again I just kind of shut down.  In case you couldn’t tell, I stress over time goals!
  5. They sound easy in theory – I mean, I run 3 miles a few times a week so how hard can it be?  But for some reason my body freaks out when it’s in a 5K situation and it seems so much harder than a regular 3 mile run at the exact same pace!  It’s kind of depressing that a 5K can tire me out so much after all of the long runs and half marathons I’ve been through.

There are some things I like about 5Ks – the excited new runners that are running their first race, the cute race shirts (that I have way too many of), the fact that they are so popular and I can usually find one to run whenever I have the urge to challenge myself, and the fun themes that some of them have.  Everyone has their favorite race distance, and for me that’s currently half marathons.  Even though I used to love signing up for 5Ks when I first started running, I no longer really enjoy them the way I used to and I’m looking for other races right now.  I’m also kind of bitter about not hitting my sub-30 goal yet again (I’ve only done it once), but I don’t really feel like training for that right now.  Maybe after Beat The Blerch I’ll be more willing to try that out.  For now, I’m going to stick with my longer distances and focus on running long, happy runs!

20140803-195812.jpgPost-race pic at the Sea Life Center celebrating race #2 in Alaska!

What’s your least favorite race distance?  Do you like 5Ks?  Would you rather run fast or run long?

20 thoughts on “Why 5Ks Are My Least Favorite

  1. I completely agree! I am not a fan of 5km, i find they seem to really over pack them with people, that you cant go for a good time. My fave distance is 10km, I am doing my first 21km in Sept – nervous for it. 10km is a long enough distance to get ahead of some people and run at a nice comfortable pace. I am nervous 21km will be too long for me.

    1. I agree about the overcrowding, it’s definitely the worst at that distance! 10Ks are definitely more fun. Good luck with the 21K – it’s an instant PR if you’ve never done one before, so enjoy it!

  2. Girl I totally understand. 5ks are not easy for me either. I love being able to take my time and not feel pressured to go quickly in longer distances. I also get super frustrated by all the people who bob and weave during a 5k and then stop to walk right in front of you. Lots of obstacles and speed happening at that distance. I would much rather prefer a 5 mile race.

    1. I agree with everything in this comment! The weaving/walking thing drives me NUTS. At this race there was a girl running at my exact pace with a spastic dog – it would cut in front of me, smash into me, and stop short in the middle of the road without any warning. I love dogs but I was so over it! I feel like that’s a safety issue and they shouldn’t allow that!

  3. I’m right there with you! My favorite race distance is the 10k because I feel like it’s a sweet spot… not too long, not too short. Just right! Thankfully it seems that more and more races are including a 10k these days.

    1. So true! Are you doing Run The Bridge 10K this year? I really wish I could be there, that race was so much fun!

      1. I’m floating the idea! I have to figure out what my plans are for the Philly full/half and then go from there. I think sooner rather than later. 😉

  4. I totally agree. I’m slow, and I have to kill myself to finish in a respectable time. Over a longer distance, I can spread that effort out a bit. I think my favorite distance is the 10-miler for that reason.

    1. I definitely agree! It’s so hard to fit that much effort into a short amount of time! I’ve never done a 10 miler but it sounds like something I would love!

    1. Yes! I never thought of them as particularly challenging when I was a new runner, but now that I’m running longer distances I just really dislike how hard I have to run in a 5K!

  5. I loath the 5k distance, and have only done a couple. I don’t warm up until 3-4 miles, and enjoy pushing myself but not killing myself. My favorite distance is the half marathon. It is a challenge, it is hard, but the training isn’t like having a second job.

    1. Okay I didn’t really think about this until you brought it up, but the worst part of long runs are the first 3 miles. Maybe that’s why I hate it! I also love half marathons the most, they are so much more fun and I think the training is easier since it’s slower!

  6. I’m sorry to hear you don’t like 5k’s, I suppose we all have our preferences. I do enjoy 5k’s and I enjoy running them fast. I feel like I’m always chasing a new PR, but that’s just me. I don’t mind longer runs but if I sign up for one I like it to be scenic and unique. Long runs I can handle on occasion but sometimes I don’t think I have the patience for them. Another reason I like 5k’s. I like it being over quickly. 🙂

    1. Haha I wish I could be like you! I think if I was faster and could actually PR on a regular basis I would like them more. I agree that any race I sign up for needs to be scenic!

  7. You are totally right about missing the scenery! I always feel worse (physically) running a 5K after running a half. I would like to improve in the 5K though.

    1. It’s good to know I’m not the only one dying after a 5K! I definitely want to get better too, but that’s just not happening now. Maybe next year!

  8. I’m in the middle…I loved 5ks when I first started but because I’ve only done one other distance (10k) I don’t have much to compare it to. Can I answer this question when I’m done with my next few races (a 10miler and half)?

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