I'm at the point now where I'll maybe run one, maybe two 5ks a year, for no particular reason. Generally, it's a matter of convenience. For example, every year, for the past five years I've run the Brookhaven Sunshine Foundation Run, which happens to be in my hometown. The course takes the runners past my house twice. RTD also times it, which is fun, because in the last couple of years, I've managed to snag an age group award, and it's always fun to give myself an award whilst announcing the winners.
So, I ran the Brookhaven 5k yesterday. I ran it in 24:37, which is about 30 seconds slower than last year. That finishing time may not seem like anything that's fast by comparative 5k standards, but, for me, it's pretty darn good considering that my running has been minimal in the past 2-3 weeks, and certainly nothing built around any sort of speed work.
I think that if I were to actually put some time in, I could shave 2 minutes off that time easily. But here's the caveat: I think 5ks are a joke. The fact that I can go out and run a 5k with little training and do moderately well is proof of that. Anyone can run a 5k with some minimal training. Where is the challenge for an experienced runner? Certainly, there is something to be said about speed and setting PRs and seeing how fast one could go. Example: I once ran a 5k in 20:30. That's my PR. Could I break that if we're to have continued to trained? No doubt, but realistically, how much much time would I have shaved off? Enough to get me to break 20? And then what? At some point, I think there is a law of diminishing returns with 5ks. A runner dedicates an inordinate amount of time to training, for a very small gain. Seconds.
Granted, all of this is the opinion of a long distance runner. Once a runner makes that transition from small distances to marathon, I think perspective changes. Alot. Christ, I'm at the point where I think 1/2 marathons are getting kinda wishy washy as well. Clearly, everyone has their own goals and challenges, and I respect anyone who puts the time in to accomplish their goals.
Am I coming off as being a bit "elitist" because I've run marathons? Probably. But you're getting my opinion, because its my blog. Its not to say that I won't run another 5k, or half marathon. I'll run anything. But the point is that those types of events don't make me tingly anymore.
When I first joined my running club, I definitely got the sense that one didnt become a "real runner" until having completed the marathon. That's a very old school way of thinking, but it still holds some weight. Anyone who runs any distance, from a 1 foot to 100 miles is a runner. But I don't want to be "just a runner." And lets leave it at that.