A blog by runners. For runners.

Ditch the disclaimer: stop apologizing for your race distance

If you choose to run the 5 mile of a 5 and 10, go for it! If you love the feel of a half marathon and loathe marathons, booyah! You are not half the athlete. You're badass.

Waiting in an endless line for Porta Potty at the Empire State Marathon and Half, I stood behind two women: runner A and runner B, respectively. Here’s what I heard.

  • Runner A: What a great day to run 26.2.
  • Runner B: It’s beautiful. But I’m ONLY running the half today.

I butted in. I couldn’t help it.

“Don’t say that!” I exclaimed. “I’m running the half, too, and I CHOSE to run it over the marathon. Running 13.1 miles is still a big deal!

Crickets. Nothing but crickets.

Why do runners feel the need to provide a disclaimer for running anything less than the premiere event?

Maybe it’s because we live in a culture of extremes. We have coworkers who are Ironmen; friends of friends who run ultra marathons; acquaintances on Facebook who share highlights of their 90+ mile weeks with maddening nonchalance. It’s easy to let our personal accomplishments pale if we compare them to others.

So let’s stop comparing them. If we find out what it is that we want to accomplish and work at it, there will be no need to keep up with the Joneses.

What works for some may not work for you
Ryan Hall, American record holder for the marathon (3:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon), needed some perspective after his DNF in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. When his performance began to wan, Hall, formerly a self-coached and faith-led athlete, sought the advice of professional triathlon coach and recovery expert, Matt Dixon.

Dixon, who specializes in “turning over-trained athletes into competitive machines,” believes “our goal is not to train as hard as we can, but to perform well, and to perform well you have to be very fit, but not fatigued.” Under Dixon’s wing, Hall has dropped his mileage from 120 to 100 and includes one day of complete rest. Hall now eats more and sleeps more and rests more than most elites in the field.

Get some perspective
A person who transitions from couch potato to 5K runner and a person who wins her first race have something vital in common: hard work.

The 5K and 10K are completely different races, just like the half marathon and marathon. Just because the latter in both sets are double the distance, it doesn’t mean they are double the challenge.

The challenge comes from how much work you put into your training and how hard you are willing to push yourself on race day.

If you choose to run the 5 mile of a 5 and 10, go for it! If you love the feel of a half marathon and loathe marathons, booyah! You are not half the athlete.

When I was walking towards the starting corral at a local 5K, a fellow runner said to me, “This should be easy for you! This is a baby run compared to what you normally do.”

“I’m not planning on letting today be easy,” I said.

And I didn’t.

What’s your favorite non-premiere race event? Let us know below or share on Twitter with the #DitchtheDisclaimer.

Written by Stephen Marcin.