I ran the Al Gordon 4 Miler in Prospect Park last Saturday. It was an awesome race - perfect 45*F weather plus it was a short, fast, local course with only one significant hill. I had a ton of fun pushing myself as hard as I could for four miles, running an average of 6:47 pace finishing in 27:06. I was happy to finish injury free and feeling like my ole' speedy self!
That said, when telling people last week that I was running a four mile race, I had a lot of people roll their eyes, "Oh, you're ONLY running four miles."
We need a little reset in the running community. Listen, I totally get that sometimes we sign up for a 5k or a 4 miler on a whim. But these short fast races are not always "just a whim." The speedwork, the tempo runs, and the intense training that these short races require totally deserves respect in the running community.
Yes, I totally get it. A four mile race is way "easier" mentally than preparing for a marathon. Its easier to recover from, less time consuming to train for, easier to try, try, try again if you run a sub-optimal time. I promise.. I really do get it!! But I still do not think we should disregard a race, any race, as insignificant when a runner has trained for it.
Instead of defining yourself as "hardcore" only when you're training for a marathon... realize that you're always hardcore when you're consistent, you're training, and you're getting the work in. No matter the distance.
AND guess what?! Your body WILL reap extreme benefits from doing shorter distances at faster paces. You'll burn body fat, you'll gain endurance, you'll gain strength and speed. Speed training IS hardcore.
So, if you're burnt out on marathons, or your life has changed in a way where you no longer have hours and hours of time to train for a long distance event - do not be afraid to sign up for a short distance race. Speed work, hill repeats, tempo runs .. these things will not only keep you fit, but KICK YOUR BOOTY. I promise!!