I ran a 5K this weekend. I ran it as a training run sandwiched between 2 easy mile bookends for a total of 7.1 miles for the day. My new Coach thought it would be a “fun” thing for me to do as we kick off marathon training. At the time, I was totally on board. I even suggested it. “Sure, Coach! FUN!” Let me preface this by saying that I really believed this would be a fantastic idea- it was for an incredible local cause. And being a shop-local-community-type gal, I signed right on up. I also thought I was fairly fit, having run a marathon and hiked a million miles on vacation the past two weeks. In that brief moment, I forgot the fact that I hated 5Ks. I hate them more than any distance. Gimme a marathon any day over this hell fest. At least with a marathon, there’s time to settle in. With a 5K, it is ON. I’m nervous. I have to pee incessantly. And my stomach feels like it’s been taken over by a swarm of bumble bees. I’m a wreck for a 5K. An ill prepared- SHIT I NEED TO RUN FAST!- wreck. It’s crazy. Because for many of us, this is the race that starts it all! This is our first date with running. We swiped right. From here our love affair with running blossoms! From here it becomes a 10k, a half-marathon, a marathon….and maybe even an ultra. The sky is the limit! I ran a 5K! I love it! I love running! Oh, how quickly we forget. Maybe we black it out. Box it up and banish it to that far away place in our minds. Because as I damn nearly forgot, 5Ks STINK. Here’s why….
Five Reasons 5Ks are Proof that Hell on Earth Exists
5. You need to run really, really fast. Sure, you can saunter along and chit chat with your squad but if you’re planning on racing one, in the words of the almighty Ru Paul – “You better werk!” And by that I mean, you shouldn’t even be able to talk. There is no ‘Easy Pace’ in the 5K. You should be able to grunt. And maybe make a few simple hand gestures involving a middle finger. If you can carry on a conversation during a 5K, Gurl, you ain’t running hard enough. And who wants that? We’re social creatures for Pete’s sake. Let’s chit chat and be merry!
4. There is no time – I REPEAT – no time to screw around. That gun goes off and it’s time to make the donuts, eat them, then forget you even had them – GO! No dicking around people. There is little room for error with a 5K. Whatever the pace you’re huffing and puffing for, you better dial it in right off the line. If you don’t you’ll inevitably go out too fast, blow up and blow donut chunks at the finish. Graphic? Yes. But totally true.
3. Your heart may very well explode. Or minimally, bounce out of your chest, stop, restart, then hop back in it’s comfy cavity, exhausted. Feeling like you’re dying is never, ever a good thing. I’m all for ’embracing the suck’ and ‘getting uncomfortable’ and all that cliched happy horseshit- but for the love of coronary arteries, it’s all a bit much. I’m sure the 5K is the ideal HIIT workout (high intensity interval training). HIIT workouts usually feature a short period of intense work with an easier recovery period only THERE IS NO RECOVERY PERIOD IN A 5K. Unless you count laying face down on the finish line in a heap of broken dreams. That’s why your heart wants to burst. It hates you and your 5K.
2. Wait. That’s it? I’m done?!? After you’ve died a thousand deaths, sucked wind and hurled – it’s over. 5Ks are quick. So if you’re trying to avoid mowing the lawn, re-staining your deck or spending time with your in -laws on a gorgeous summer weekend THIS AIN’T THE RACE FOR YOU. You will be home and ready to throw yourself into your annoying house hold chores zippity quick. You can’t bail on a gorgeous summer mid-day baby shower and forgo ohhh-ing and ahhhh-ing over diaper genies and onsies if you’re running a 5K because you will have time to go home, shower and fluff up in no time. Who wants to run a race that doesn’t involve a “Get Out Of Annoying Obligations Because You’re Racing -Free” card? Gimme a nice long marathon as an excuse to get out of doing pesky things on a weekend any damn day.
And the Number 1 reason why 5Ks are proof that hell on earth exists…..
1. 5Ks HURT. In my humble opinion, those wretched things may last less than 30 minutes (god willing) BUT it will be the worst 30 minutes of your life. Your heart, your lungs, your legs, your ego…..EVERYTHING HURTS AND YOU’RE DYING. Improving your time on the damn thing? That hurts even more. And is it even worth it? I’m not quite sure.
Maybe if I focused on shorter distances and did more speed work and maybe prepared to race 5Ks or even ran more than one a year or maybe spent more time on the track or didn’t have a few beers the night before…maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad?…
Don’t kid yourself. We runners are masochists. Pain is temporary. Just like our memory.