What I Like About You – Ranking Race Distances

Today’s #TrackTuesday work consisted of 4x1200m repeats. It was the first time I’d ever tried them out. They are short enough that you have to run pretty hard to make them challenging, but long enough that it feels like forever to hold such a tough pace. If you haven’t tried them, don’t. I find them to be just awful. However, they inspired me to think about what I think about various running distances and what I like/don’t like about them. I’m going to do my best to rank them. I’m sure to leave some distances out, most likely because I haven’t been crazy enough to try them (I’m talking to you, anything >50k).


  1. 10 Miler – In my opinion, this is the best all around distance. For me, this is the longest distance that I can reasonably hold my fast race pace. Anything longer than this, and I definitely have to adjust my goal pace downward (or upward, depending on how you choose to look at it). I also love that 10 miles burns enough calories to justify my atrocious post-race eating/drinking habits. Recovery is a piece of cake too (sometimes literally). It’s not a distance that can destroy my whole day like longer distances can.

  2. Half Marathon – Similar to the 10 mile distance, but I just can’t seem to get near the same pace. Of course, half marathons are much more common so I’ll just have to be happy with these. I complain about not being able to run them as fast as I can run a 10 miler, but at the same time I get to not run them as fast as I force myself to run a 10 miler.

  3. 5 miler/10k – These are cool because I don’t have to worry about racing all of those fresh, young high school cross-country kids with their fresh legs and young enthusiasm, like I do in a 5k. I also like that it’s still enough of a caloric burn to allow me some binging.

  4. Marathon – Let’s face it, the thought of running a marathon is super fun. We love searching for the right one for us, training for it and all that buildup. We love that we HAVE to eat that pizza, or those donuts, or that cheesecake. The shirts are always cool, the finisher’s medals are always creative and fun to hang up and show off. I mean, look at what Richmond is giving out this year (I’ll be there to get it)! Then there’s the part where we actually have to RUN the marathon. Even the good ones hurt like not much else can hurt. We have to stress that everything will go right, and sometimes it doesn’t (even when we planned everything right). There’s sometimes disappointment. Sometimes when we finish, we say, “never again.” All that being said, they are totally worth it!

  5. 5k – These sometimes seem to be over before they even begin. I’ve told friends that I’d rather face the pain of a marathon than the pain of a marathon than the pain of a 5k. I’m not kidding. They are completely different kinds of pain. Marathon pain is just an overall soreness and fatigue that lacks the intensity of what I feel during a 5k. Most miles of a marathon are tolerable and even enjoyable (until we run into that wall), but the 5k is a struggle from gun to finish. The worst part is that a 5k doesn’t burn the calories that allow me to go nuts during the post-race feast. The last one I ran, I had a donut in one hand and a protein bar in the other and sadly realized that I was about to replenish more than what I’d burned by racing.

  6. Ultra distances (50k or greater) – I really am not qualified to speak on this topic, since I’ve only run one 50k and I was completely untrained and even went off course for 3 extra miles. It was a disaster. I froze. I’ll be happy to let anyone chime in and speak up for these, but it won’t be me. The one perk is that it’s common to basically eat meals during these races, if you have the stomach for it. That’s cool.

Do you agree or disagree with my rankings or have anything to add? I’d love to hear what my fellow runners and racers think.


14 Replies to “What I Like About You – Ranking Race Distances”

  1. Half marathon is my happy zone for running. I don’t need to train tirelessly and I usually feel pretty accomplished afterward (and yeah, can definitely score some food afterward!) Marathons are awesome for bragging rights and enjoying the entire journey of training. I’m hoping this year’s experience is better than last year. I’m looking to train hard and not smack a wall so badly. Great post!


  2. I’m late to the party! I saved this post a while ago.
    I agree – 10 miles are the best! 13.1 and 5 miles would be my 2nd favorite.

    Marathons- sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post! I enjoy the 10k distance the most, followed closely by the 10 miler. Unfortunately, I just haven’t found that many 10 mile races near me! But I’m right there with you, I feel like that’s the distance that I can sustain my push pace the longest.

    I reallllllly want to like the 5k distance but I haven’t ever really trained properly for it. That’s actually my goal for the incoming year – get better at racing shorter distances. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: