I have thought about this idea several times over the years. It is something I call “Sub-Ultra Distances.”
Since 2002, I have run just about every distance from the mile to 50K. I have completed more 5Ks than I can remember, along with half marathons on both the roads and trails, and a couple of trail marathons and ultras. However, many of the distances I have covered are not what one would call “normal” distances. They include the Vertical K, mile, 8K, 13K, 14K, 15K, 10-miler, 20K, 25K, 17-miler, 38K, etc. While I enjoyed my two trail marathons and my two 50Ks, my happy place seems to be somewhere in the non-normal range of 10K-38K. When I look for races even in this range, I don’t tend to look for half marathons, but instead, I actually steer away from them.
Yet, all the rage in running seems to be the 13.1, 26.2, 50K (and beyond!). Ultras are ultra popular. I am happy to see that road, trail, mud, mountain, and cross country are all doing so well. But, I have to wonder: Are we losing an appreciation for the shorter distances in trail racing? Some races under 20 miles can be just as hard, if not harder, than some marathons and ultras!
Since I have run so many different distances on both roads and trails, I have learned that each distance needs to be respected and each distance is trained for in a different way. Training for a mile on the roads was much different than my Vertical K up Killington Mountain. Long run training for a 50K on the trails is completely different than intervals on the track pursuing a PR/PB in a 5K on the roads.
So, what am I really saying? I am not completely sure. That’s why putting this down in print is a bit difficult. I guess I am wondering, are there others like me? Do we form a group within a group? Is there a trail and/or road running niche for those of us who enjoy racing the non-standard race distances? Is it Sub-Ultra? Non-Standard? Anti-Marathon? (Probably not the last!)
I would love to:
1) Connect with you on social (Twitter – @zbultra & Instagram – zbultra) to hear your thoughts and comments.
2) Ask questions so we can think about this together.
3) Tell me what your past racing history is like and how it connects to this.
4) Discover if you think that this is a niche within trail running that is getting overlooked? And if so, what do we call this niche? Is it really a niche, or is this what trail running is/was?