Reader’s Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Race Distance?

From here are you halfway through or almost done with your perfect race? Image via wikipedia.
From here are you halfway through or almost done with your perfect race? Image via wikipedia.

Here on Salty Running, our bloggers run a wide range of races. From short stuff on the track to 100 miles or more, we cover all the popular race distances! This week, as spring racing season peaks, we’ll be bringing you several race reports, prerace jitters and lots and lots of racing talk! So, naturally, our Readers Roundtable this week asks you about your race preferences.

Specifically, we want to know what your favorite race distance is and why you love it. Do you like a short burst of intensity of track races? Or the long slow burn of a half marathon? Maybe you prefer something a little in between like a 10k? Perhaps you like flirting with the wall of the marathon? Do you like to ride out the waves in an ultra?

Readers, tell us: What’s your favorite race distance? Be sure to tell us why you love it too!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. I like the half-marathon. It’s long enough to feel like a race, to expend all of my energy. But not long enough to cause a lot of pain or much damage.
    You can run a half in a reasonable amount of time and get home in time to do some of the weekend chores.

  2. I’m torn. For actual racing, I like the half marathon. I can push myself for an hour and a half but I don’t have to hurt as badly as I do in a 5k or 10k. Marathons I just lose focus. On the other hand, I really like the camaraderie and food at 50ks. For me, it’s like a marathon without the stress but all the fun of a long run.

    1. I feel so much the same way about marathons! I struggle to focus and prevent negative thought creep for that long! I’m very ultra-curious. I really like trail running and wonder how I might do in something like a trail 50k. Definitely something to try one of these days 🙂

  3. Marathon. Endurance is my strongest suit as a runner and I really love drinking in the sights on a long run. I might really like ultras too, but haven’t tried one yet, and my body does not always take well to trail running.

  4. It’s hard to say, I like lots of different things for lots of different reasons! But I think I’m gonna go with the mile. It’s long enough to employ race strategy, but BANG! and you’re done! It’s fun to watch and fun to race. And being a time trial standard, it feels to me like the ultimate test of fitness. 5k is a close second, but man, having just one mile to show what you’ve got is so exciting!

  5. I’m most confident in longer distances like the half. We’ll see how running my first full goes in a few weeks. I enjoy being in control at a pace that is swift but not all out and I can tolerate the pain at the end of an endurance run a lot better than the pain at the end of a 5k. I do however enjoy racing the 800 meters but the training is so different that I really just enter an 800 for fun occasionally.

  6. I love the 5K. Though a short race, it’s a journey. It combines speed, endurance, strategy, and composure. I have never raced the mile, but that’s on my to-do list for when I can bring myself to stop focusing on the 5K, which has become somewhat of an addiction at the moment. 🙂

  7. I fell in love with the half marathon the first time I ran it. Having now done 13, it is the distance I have done most frequently in races. I think my favourite thing is the fact that I feel like I have pushed myself hard but at the same time I can recover quickly enough to run another fairly soon afterwards.

  8. Definitely 5k! I love that I can race one almost every weekend if I wanted to. As opposed to the marathon, there are way fewer factors that can mess up your race and if it sucks, try again next week. The only downside to the 5k is that many are inaccurate or poorly organized.

  9. The 5K is by far my favorite distance! Though it’s a “shorter” distance (the sprinters I coach would laugh at that), it requires an immense amount of power and stamina. Lauren Fleshman wrote a great piece on the 5K in the May 2014 issue of Runner’s World, and it really did a great job of summing up my thoughts on this highly underrated race. Not knocking the marathon, half-marathon, or even ultras, but I hate that the 5K is often scoffed at because it’s “so short,” as if distance is the only thing that matters. I compete in 5Ks; that is my specialty, and the amount of work and dedication I put into them – not to mention what I yield from each race – can’t possibly be any less than what a marathoner, ultra-runner, or every-day runner feels when they finish their own races.