I’ve never been a big fan of the 5K. It wasn’t so much that I was against the 3.1-mile race distance, but I was too busy worrying about getting more miles in. I was training for marathons and logging serious long runs of anywhere from 10 to 22 miles, so 5Ks just weren’t worth my time or effort.
It wasn’t until recently when I started focusing on running shorter distances that I grew to appreciate the simplicity of the 5K, and it’s not just because I try to run them really fast. 5K races tend to attract a wide range of runners, from absolute beginners to elite speedsters to people who decide at the last minute to do a road race. It’s a fun distance and unlike a marathon or even a half-marathon, a 5K is over fairly quickly.
The Couch to 5K training program has become a popular way for non-runners to gradually get into running, building slowly from walking to eventually running a 5K in the span of two months. (Visit www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/index.shtml for more information.)
In addition, 5Ks are great and reasonable races to get your kids running. At the recent Reindeer Run 5K in Beverly, I was one of many parents running alongside their children. Although the bitter cold and occasional hills were tough on my 8-year-old, I’m proud to say we both got through the race just fine (and a minute behind my 10-year-old).
Charitable organizations have also found that holding 5Ks is a great way to raise money. The first Festivus 5K for Autism, held on Dec. 9 in Salem, far surpassed its goals by attracting more than 500 registered runners and raising more than $10,000 for The Autism Society.
Of course, running a 5K doesn’t have to cost you money. For the past five years, the Danvers 5K Fun Run has taken place every Wednesday throughout the year. The D5K runners vary in speed and ability and meet at 7 p.m. at Sweet William’s Garden Center on Pine Street in Danvers.
A similar group run takes place on Thursdays in Salem. Runners who do the No Rest for the Wicked “5K-ish” meet at 6:45 p.m. at the Hawthorne Hotel and then start their run at Salem Common. Both these groups run for the sheer fun and camaraderie of it, which is the way it should be.
Whatever your running goals, it’s not a bad idea to throw a few 5Ks into the mix. If you’re training for a long-distance event, doing a shorter-distance one can be a nice change of pace. And if a 5K is your ideal race distance, you can run one pretty much every week if you want.
Starts and stops: Another week, another running-related study. The Los Angeles Times reported this week on a Duke University study that found that people looking to lose weight are better off running than lifting weights. The researchers compared people who did aerobic exercise such as running, swimming or walking with a group that did resistance training such as weightlifting, and with a group of people that did both kinds of exercise. The 119 participants were overweight or obese adults who were randomly assigned to one of three groups, according to the Times: Resistance training of three days per week or 180 minutes, aerobic training of 12 miles per week or about 133 minutes; or both. The groups assigned to do aerobic training and aerobic plus resistance training lost more weight than the group that just did resistance training; the latter group gained weight from an increase in lean body mass. Ultimately, the results aren’t surprising. If you’re looking to lose a lot of weight, then aerobic exercise is the way to go. But if you want to tone your body, then a mixture of aerobic and resistance training is a sensible approach.
On The Run appears every other Thursday in The Salem News. Contact Jay Kumar at Jay.Kumar@gmail.com
Upcoming races Wednesday, Dec. 26: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thursday, Dec. 27: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact email@example.com. Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013: The 6th annual Frosty Four, a 4-mile race, Salem, 10 a.m. Registration is at the Tavern in the Square from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. Race start is on Front Street. Fee is $20 for entries received by December 21st, $25 thereafter. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Register online at www.northshoretiming.com. The Frosty Four has been officially selected as a Road Runners Club of America Regional Championship Race. Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact email@example.com.