I’ve done crazy things for the experience too!
This past weekend I was able to work at the Flying Pig Marathon Expo for 7 hours. These expos are an interesting place to witness human behavior with all the different scenarios:
1. The anxious runner who is roaming to find something to buy that could give them that last minute confidence for race day (tomorrow).
2. The veteran runner that has been there and done that many times, therefore no amount of give-a-way is going to lure them to your booth.
3. The vacationer that is using the marathon as a chance to meet new people, visit a different city and likely doing this with a friend or family member.
4. The quick-as-possible runner that wants to get through the expo as quickly as possible so that they can get off their feet and relax.
If I had to put myself in one of these categories, I would say that I am a “quick-as-possible” runner. This is especially true if I have any kind of performance goal for my race the following day. The expo is an energy sucking event and I ask all my runners to be smart and don’t treat it like an all day fair (unless of course they don’t care about their race ability and just want a great experience and love crowds and expos).
My Biggest Observation of the Day
The one interesting thing that I noticed at the expo the other day was another phenomenon in running that has really taken hold within the running culture, I’m labeling it the:
We were promoting a half marathon at the expo, which is an event I was happy to support and volunteer my time to help. What I found interesting were all the comments from runners that were along the lines of:
- “It’s only a half marathon”
- “I am only looking for a marathon”
- “I only run marathons or ultras”
- “I don’t have time for half’s, I’m running ‘x’ marathons this year”
Or 500 different versions within that line of discussion. At times it kind of irritated me because it felt like people were looking down upon the event we were promoting. There is no question that there’s a movement in our running culture that is starting to view running one marathon as a pedestrian challenge. In order to get people to admire your efforts you seem to have to run many marathons in a short time period or do ultras.
I don’t really have an opinion one way or another on the choices people make along their endurance journey. I myself have made it a lifetime goal to run a marathon in all 50 states and DC. Although, that goal is becoming almost and entry level goal anymore. Now you almost need to do all 50 in a year to seem worthy of note.
You know what I almost titled this post? “How Dean Karnazes has ruined American Running.” But, then I thought that maybe people would take offense and take it the wrong way.
It does bring up some questions that we should ask ourselves:
- How many marathons can you run … and run them well?
- How often can you run long and keep some of your speed?
- If all we are doing is running marathons, what role does faster / speed workouts have in our training?
Again, the answer to this question is an individual answer because it depends on what you are trying to achieve with these events. If your goal is to complete a marathon that is on your checklist and your don’t care about your time, then your answer is going to be much different than someone who is running to try for a personal best.
What I find interesting are the runners who run 3, 4 or 5 marathons a year and at each one expect to have personal bests. It just isn’t a logical scenario.
What role does speed have in your training program?
I have a saying that I use at many of my public talks and clinics,
“If the only metric you use to monitor your run training is mileage, than you are not as good of a runner as you could be.”
There are so many other variables you can manipulate in your training to get better. The weekly mileage you run is only an overhead view into what is going on. I found that the “mileage kings” mind set is so strong that I stopped using miles years ago and only coach runners with time. Of course we have to have some specific mileage workouts so we can test our fitness, but often that is a great opportunity for a race, such as a 10k or half marathon.
One idea that I often get as push back on “running hard” is, “I don’t want to get hurt.” I have two comments on that:
1. I see runners get hurt more often by running too far, too soon and too often.
2. You do need to have a base of fitness and running history, which goes back to my 4 x 45min weeks as a minimum prior to starting a program and training for a race. And that base should be a minimum of a couple months, not just a week or two (I’ll share more on this soon as I am making a return to higher run training).
Proof that running fast is uncool
One of the most liked, well known and public distance runners in the United States is Josh Cox. Yesterday, he posted a Facebook status that set this topic on fire (ironically, right when I began this post). Here’s the sequence of updates he shared yesterday:
Know who you are and what you want.
There is no doubt that running far, running far often and if you can, running really far is the trend I see in the running culture. Running a fast 5k or 10k is just not cool anymore.
There is also a relative term of “fast” here. What is fast for Josh Cox is unrealistic for me to consider, but what is fast for me is fast for me. Whether fast is 4:30/mile, 7:00/mile, 10min/mile or 14min/mile – it’s a relative term.
After coaching the spring group for half marathons and marathons, I decided that maybe I am contributing to this by only having groups for those race distances? Therefore we started a 5k for beginners program and I’m coaching a group for the Bluegrass 10k.
I am even considering next year to require runners to run 5k’s, 10k’s and maybe the 10 mile race distances in the spring, then we’ll look at the half marathon and marathons in the fall?
I personally think it would help make people healthier, we’d see less injury and burnout, and we would likely see much better performances in the fall should runners chose to do a half or full marathon.
Who knows, maybe we’d make running fast cool again?
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