With the road-racing season fast approaching there are 5k, 10k and half marathons a plenty to choose from. Even the marathon has become mainstream over recent years. Racing the same distance regularly is a great way to benchmark progress and set targets.
However it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Another Sunday, another 10k. Why not chose some more unusual distances? It’s a great way to keep your racing fresh, and the fact you don’t have a history over a given distance reduces self-imposed pressure. Here are a few options.
The mile. The classic middle distance event, and a challenging blend of aerobic and anaerobic running. Racing over the mile really forces you to work on technique. There are plenty of options for a road mile, from big-ticket races such as the Westminster Mile (24 May 2015) or Manchester mile (1 July 2015), to local events. For example West London boasts the Boston Manor Mile and Ealing Mile on the first Thursday and Friday of the month respectively. If you prefer the track, try AAT Events’ mass participation mile at the Guildford athletics track.
Eight miles. A great bridge between 10k and half marathon, and a good way to test your half marathon pace under race conditions. Not a very common distance, but worth seeking out. Options in the South East include the Frimley Green Canal Run (January 2016) and the ever-popular Kingston Breakfast Run (15 March 2015), which also offers a two-lap 16 mile option.
Twenty miles. Once a popular long distance alternative to the marathon, this distance has declined over the years. Definitely worth a go though, either as a pre marathon training run or a race in it’s own right. For a sense of history try the oldest such event in the country, the Finchley Twenty (8 March 2015), first run in 1933.
(The Finchley 1933 start - photo from the event's website)
Horse racing? An interesting alternative to particular distance is to pit yourself against an unusual opponent. You could consider the “Man v Horse Marathon” (13 June 2105). Established back in 1980 in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, the course is a grueling 24 off road miles. Only twice has a human won. Wales also hosts “Race the Train” (15 Aug 2015), an out and back route along the Talyllyn Steam Railway. It’s a slightly more manageable 14 miles and is more favorable to humans, with the fastest men and women beating the train.
Food for thought before committing to another 10k!
by Andrew Hooker