I have noticed over the last several weeks that a lot of the people showing up for our Group Runs are consistently increasing their distance. When we got started at the end of 2015 we had several people that would run 2 or 3 miles and a few that would do more some weekends. We also had a mix of walkers that would show up and brave the cold. Now I see people consistently going for distances of 6, 10 or even 12 miles. My guess is that as we continue into the spring those distances are going to keep climbing, and I hope that the number of walkers keeps climbing as well.
There are more people that run 5K races than any other distance (by a lot), but other distances are growing. I found the statistics for 2014 and it showed that the 5K distance actually stayed essentially the same in number of participants from 2013, but the full and half marathon both increased. 2013 was the #1 year on record for race participants and in 2014 we actually had more people running longer distance races.
This means that people are breaking the routine of showing up and running a local 5K every now and then. Just like we are seeing at Run Richmond people are scheduling longer races and training for them. Running a 10K, Half or Full Marathon is a different undertaking than running a 5K. A casual runner can show up at a 5K and run the race and feel good when they are done. 5Ks are great races, you can race in the morning and still have the rest of your day to live a normal life. Normal isn’t how I would describe the way I felt after my first half marathon.
If a casual runner shows up at a half marathon without a plan and just takes off things won’t likely end well. Depending on overall health, the person may or may not finish the race. Injury is likely and I can almost guarantee that they will feel like crap for several days. I don’t mean to scare anyone away from upping their distance and jumping to the next level race. I actually will encourage it. I think most people are too comfortable with their current situation and need to make a change and push themselves a little harder.
What I want people to do is choose your race, find a training plan, spend time running with people that have ran that distance before and go get it done. Your goal may be to do a 10K. Running a 10K takes different planning than running a 5K. If you are ready to try a half, that takes different plans than the 5K or 10K. Each distance has its own challenges, find the people that can help you meet your goals.
Not much can make a person feel better about his or herself than setting a goal that seems crazy and working hard to make it happen. We live in a world where most people are for more interested in tearing you down than building you up. We also live in a world where people expect things to be easy. Nothing about running long distances is easy. Most people think you are crazy for even considering it. Any opportunity you have to build yourself up you should jump on. Running can not only boost your self esteem, but it actually makes you healthier. So not only will you possibly live longer you will feel better about yourself while doing it. That definitely sounds like a win win situation to me.