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April 29, 2015

26.2 Versus 5K - Lauren Fleshman Breaks It Down

Does marathon training make you feel like this?


Try out the 5k for increased power, pep, and rock star photo backgrounds!...


Marathon month is almost over, and I’m pumped! Not because the marathon isn’t cool…how could a supernatural feat of guts, discipline, and courage be anything but? It’s just that, as you probably know, I love me some 5k, and marathons seem to get all the love these days.

Spring marathon, fall marathon, and maybe a half or two in between: that’s the race calendar of most runners I know. The 5k becomes an event they might do “for fun” as a “tempo run” with one of their co-workers or friends who is new to the sport, but I’m here to remind you that the 5k is it’s own beast worth studying, pursuing, and slaying, (or corn worth husking for the veg-O’s out there).

Last year I wrote a column for Runner’s World pleading the case for the 5k after Dude On Plane mistook me for a newbie when I told him it was my favorite event. In that article I encouraged people to take a break from the longer stuff to focus on shorter distance races, to bring their competitive drive to their local 5k, and set some new personal records in training and racing. TONS of people participated in the #5kRevolution, and I’ve been continually receiving links to blogs, photos, and random bursts of joy on social media from people discovering this awesome event that’s been in their backyard all along.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of marathons and 5ks, and see how it shakes out. Maybe, just maybe, the 5k is calling your name too…


Are you 5k-curious? Interested in getting speedier? Need some workout guidance? The workout of the week series (#WoW) I wrote for Strava is meant to help runners get better at the shorter distances. Taking some time to focus on the 5k certainly can’t hurt! Not only will you experience all the benefits in that chart above, but chances are if you eventually return to marathons, you just might find you’ve broken through to a new level.

Wings Out! 



Kerry | April 29, 2015 at 9:34am

Dang it!

I wish I would have read this Pro/Con list before registering for Chicago! I got 8 weeks before serious marathon training, I might have to sneak a 5K in there!

Mallory | April 29, 2015 at 12:04pm


Lauren, you're like the funniest person ever. We would totally be friends in real life. And our sons are like the same stinkin' age. You're just a whole last faster than me. And cooler.

Guest | April 29, 2015 at 1:06pm

agree wholeheartedly


Candy | April 29, 2015 at 3:38pm

5k all the way

I love the underrated 5k. It's so short you can't remember the pain within minutes of finishing your warm down. Despite being a lifelong runner, I often get side-eye when people hear I'm training for a 5k. Like I'm a wimp. But it's such a good option for novices!

Lindsay Knake | April 29, 2015 at 5:55pm

I'm a marathoner who

I'm a marathoner who absolutely hates the 5K. Not because I think it's silly or too short or not worthy of running (it absolutely is), but because it's so freaking hard. That's a good thing. I jump into a 5K once or twice a year and it always kicks my butt. My strength as a runner is certainly grinding out miles at a slower pace, but I'll always, always cheer for everyone who runs 5K.

Katherine | April 30, 2015 at 10:08am


I love the 5k, it suits my "Let's get this done" mentality better than the longer races. I also love working out with weights and speed work on the track and the 5k seems to complement carrying more muscle. I do the odd 1/2 for fun, with friends ;). 5ks are for serious.