Do you suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Do you feel envious of all the races and running other people are doing, and wish that you could also join in all the time? Does this lead you to trying everything available just because you can?
This evening I ran the RunThrough UK Chase the Sun 5km race at Clapham Common, mostly because it was there and I now live nearby. It was a muggy evening and I set off too fast, then spent the next 4km feeling like I was falling apart but also just about managing to hold on. I finished as 2nd female, in a time of 20:56 – 12 seconds off my PB set last summer. For having raced a lot recently and not done much targeted speedwork in amongst all the taper/recovery, I’m pretty pleased with that result!
But it got me thinking: why do I run marathons? Why have I set myself this audacious goal of trying to run 26.2 marathons by age 26.2? My shorter-distance running is much better than my long-distance running, so why do I continue to strive towards 42.2km (and possibly beyond)?
If you plug my 5km time from today into a Race Time Predictor, it estimates that I should be able to run a 3:21 marathon – yet my PB is 3:41. I know that these predictors are hardly accurate, especially given the distance difference between 5km and 42.2km, but the results do seem to indicate that my marathon performances should be considerably better than they have been. So again: why do I focus on marathons when I can run much better over shorter distances?
It all comes back to FOMO. When I started running, it was just me and a Couch-to-5k app. There was nothing beyond that distance, and I was honestly so proud to be able to run for 30mins straight. I didn’t run over 7km for 18 months after I first laced up. But then I started entering events and discovering that you could run further and further and further. Each new distance brought with it a new PB and a new world unlocked. I started to become part of a smaller and smaller group of people who have run a half-marathon, run a marathon, completed a triathlon – and that felt special.
Simultaneously, I started to surround yourself with the people who centre their lives around running, and all of this craziness became normal. Discussing upcoming races with friends is the go-to conversation topic, and hearing about all the magical events in all the magical places around the world makes me want to try them all for myself. The 26.2 marathon challenge is partially just an excuse to travel and to do these races: it was born out of FOMO.
Anyway; this is the conundrum that I run in. I love short, sharp 5km runs because they’re over and done with very quickly (and you can go again the next day), but I also love the slow burn of a marathon. I love the multi-discipline of triathlon and I love trying to push the boundaries of my endurance to go further and further.
Eventually I know I will have to pick a focus and settle on targeting one race instead of trying to do them all. However, I also like throwing in a cheeky mid-week 5km race (a day after an interval session) just for the hell of it. I will continue to succumb to my FOMO for another while yet.