Posted by: Joe English | July 27, 2010

Commentary — It’s the intensity, not the distance, stupid

running-advice-bugI find it so interesting whenever I the discussion that follows, which I’m sure many of you have heard as well. I’ll tell someone that I’m doing a short race, say a 5K or 10K, and the person on the other end of this conversation will say the following: “why would you want to do that? You’re a marathon runner. That must be so easy for you.”

I usually just sort of nod and say something like, “well, it’s part of my training.” But in truth, I really want to put one hand on each side of their head and shake them a little and then say, “it’s not the distance, it’s how hard you run it!”

I’m thinking about this, because I ran in another 5K race this weekend and once again got these same quizzical inquiries from neighbors and friends that we’re sorting of asking ‘why bother’ with all these short races that I’m doing. But there is something important here that you runners can get from hearing me explain the answer as it really should be explained to them.

Let’s take this particular 5K race. It was small race with just 500 runners. But in that race the top 29 runners broke 16:00, which is 5:08 minutes per mile. That’s really moving. In fact, the top 74 runners completed the 5K with an average pace of less than 6:00 per mile. That’s a lot of people that were pushing really, really hard. Now, let’s factor in that the temperature was 85 degrees during the race and that ratchets things up yet another notch. For those folks, there was nothing easy happening out there in that 5K.

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