"Just a training run"

March 3, 2008

If I had a nickel for every time someone minimized a race performance with the phrase “It was just a training run,” the sport of running would seem a lot more lucrative.

This oft-repeated excuse used to bother me. When I showed up at a race, I was there to RACE. What could be simpler? Why couldn’t everyone else be like me?

In recent years, though, I’ve become more accepting of the races-as-training-runs approach. One reason is philosophical: every runner has the right to decide what his/her own goals should be, even if those goals seem silly to others. But there are also practical considerations. Sometimes it’s just nice to do a training run where an interesting route has been carefully measured, clearly marked, and stocked with refreshments. And sometimes it’s nice to have company.

Last week’s training plan called for me to run seven laps of the unpaved 3.22-mile outer loop at Green Lake on Saturday. It’s a workout I’ve done many times before, and it’s about as exciting as it sounds.

Then I heard that Saturday was also the day of a three-hour race at Des Moines Creek Park in SeaTac — a chance to do a similar workout, but at a slightly more exotic venue, with other runners and an aid station and maybe even some prizes. So off I went. I chatted with acquaintances (including fellow bloggers Alison, Devon, and Laura), ate Girl Scout cookies, and covered about 42 kilometers on the flat but turny course. It was a good effort, I thought … considering that it was just a training run.


  1. It is fun for us more modest athletes to be able to enjoy the company on the trails with an elite level athlete out doing a training run. I am a fan of the sport and the talent in the Seattle area is very impressive to me. I also appreciate the fact that you encourage those of us you passed as if we were standing still.

  2. Greg – if you are looking for another 'training' run, on March 29th, there will be a 50k/100k at Greenlake put on by Roadrunner/Marathon Maniacs. The field will be small as you said, there will be cookies and likely prizes.

  3. Jake: Thanks for the idea … but the Green Lake races are only two weeks before the Mad City 100K, so I'll be tapering by then.

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