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December 20, 2012

On the Run: The simple joys of the 5K

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.

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