November 2019

Which running distance is easier?: A 5k, 10k,marathon or ultra marathon?

Running has changed so much over the past few years. I remember when I did my first marathon in 2016,  it was just starting to get more popular. Now, running marathons has become almost quite normal. I guess it’s not met with the same sort of shock as it used used to? The ultra is now becoming the new marathon in many ways. I’ve just started training for Comrades 2020 – what I’ve found with ultra running, is that I often get people commenting that the shorter distances must be easy. So that got me thinking – are the shorter distances easier? I asked a few ultra runners what they thought.    

With short runs in my build up phase for Comrades Marathon training, I asked a few runners, what their favourite distance is and why? And what’s their favourite part of the ultra distance:  

Mary: A Healthier Moo

Well that totally depends on the runner! Personally, I’m very mentally strong which helps to be able to get through the tough sections in longer distance races. I’m not the fastest runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I know what works for me diet wise and tactics wise (when to fuel and which sections to walk, etc).

I find a 5k or 10k distance much more daunting because you have to be completely on it from the moment the gun goes off until the cross the finish line! Give me an ultra any day!

Kat: I am Kat Runs
My favourite distance to race is 50 miles. Racing long oddly makes it more manageable for me. I can take my time, pace myself to meet race cutoffs without having to push at the “red line” level I would trying to PB a 10km or half marathon.

By choosing long trail races I get to see parts of the countryside I wouldn’t normally and the great views and fresh air allows me time to think and problem solve whilst I run.

Victoria: Victoria Runs Wild
My favourite distance is a half marathon because it’s long enough for me to feel satisfied, but it’s also a distance I can hold onto a fairly speedy pace across – I find it pretty exhilarating when I’m on top form and always feel very proud of myself. I actually think ultra marathons are the easiest distance to race though; an ultra is all about finding a pace you can hold a comfortable conversation at and then just allowing your legs to tick over. It’s actually surprising just how comfortably long your legs can travel when they’re not focused on speed, plus ultras usually involve beautiful surroundings which are far more inspiring that road races!

And what do I think?
I’ve grown to love the 5k distance. It’s a short and and all out distance from the start and there’s more to it than a Park Run or Couch to 5km program. Ultras in many ways are easier than the shorter distances. When you’ve found that pace you can hold onto, it’s just about maintaining it at a comfortable pace. It might surprise you, but I find half marathons, 10 milers and 10ks harder. Can we also talk about all the food? I love that food plays a big part in ultras!

What’s your thoughts?