Respect the Distance

Last Sunday I did my long ride in Nuvali. Sundays are usually fun run days, and on this particular one there were various distances offered all the way up to 21K (or half-marathon). It was a locally-organized race and I was happy that there were many people running. As I got further into my regular ride and pedaled past the run course, I realized that I was riding past the tail end of the 21K participants on their last U-turn before heading back to the finish.

I couldn’t help noticing the people who were sitting down on the sidewalk taking a break. They didn’t look like experienced runners; some of them were wearing walking shorts and canvas sneakers. They seemed very tired, but I knew they still had a long way to go to finish. I quipped to a couple of them, “The longer you sit here, the longer you’ll take to finish. Keep moving!”

I later found out the race had offered finishers shirts and medals only for the 21K category, priced at P600. I surmised that those I saw struggling had probably signed up for that distance without knowing really how long a half-marathon is. That just made me so sad for them!

I hope they all managed to finish and collect their finisher’s loot, but I also hope they learned a valuable lesson. I only wish they have not been too traumatized by the experience, and in the future will train adequately for the distance. Distance needs to be respected, and those who do not prepare for it adequately will suffer. In worst-case scenarios they may tempt injury or illness, or worse.

This ill preparation for distance isn’t limited to newbie runners. On my Facebook feed I see many runners (yes, even experienced ones!) patting themselves on the back for toughing through a race despite a nagging injury, or being ill, or not having trained for it. Enough of this machismo. Folks, these races are a dime a dozen, but we only have one body and it can only stand so much abuse before breaking down beyond repair. What’s the use of a box of finisher medals when in the end you have to retire from the sport you love because you can no longer physically do it?

Kikay Runner
I want to be able to run into my sunset years.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not telling people how to spend their hard-earned money. They can register in whatever distance they want. As for myself, I enter races to test my fitness. I can run 21K any day of the week at any pace I want; there’s no real need to sign up for a race to log training miles, especially if it’s held on my regular stomping grounds. I join half-marathons to see where I stack up against competition. I reap the reward of honest training, thorough preparation, and hard racing with a strong finish across the line where I know I did my very best on the day. To me, that’s the real post-race loot, and it’s what makes the registration fee worth it for me.

Respect the distance, and that hard-fought finisher medal will be just as significant. You’ll feel a lot better at the finish line, though.

About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in fitness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

31 thoughts on “Respect the Distance

  1. this is sad…. training is very impt.. the sad thing here is us serious runners take evwnts seriously by prep..and training but some people treat running as an easy sport or tatakbo ka lang naman idea.. with out thinking ung goal time pace… kala nila ganun ganun lang un…

  2. so sad.,and yung iba para may medal and finisher shirt lang ok na,i joined the NatGeo last 26 April I’m so sad seeing people na parang wala lang.,well iba iba ang trip nila talaga.

  3. 21k could still be a plain FUN run for the serious first time runners or newbies ought to finish it of course, if determined. the reason many signed for 21k was apparently due to the popular culture of fun run nowadays (thanks anyway for the growing run culture), less knowledge that fun runs are only suitable to joy runs in 5k and less…..getting more up to 10k and above to half marathon=21k up to full marathon=42k or so to ultra distance 50k up is actually no longer fun for beginners. of course, it’s always fun for the veterans…Nice Run still>>>so next time fun runners must think first before registering in 21k if not really determined to finish it. but this is a free country for them to make fun anyway and anywhere.being sad to see them like that of course is logical>>>

  4. Well, it’s a sad reality that since running started to become popular more than half a decade ago, participants sign up for the longer distances because these events have more stuff in the loot bag, not to mention the more attractive post race items such as the finisher’s shirt and/or medal. It’s pretty common that organizers only offer finisher shirts for 5K and 10K events, and medals for 16K’s, half marathons and marathons. Organizers are also to blame for this phenomenon due to their sleezy marketing tricks. I used to have co-workers who jumped from 5K fun runs to a half marathon just because of the “bragging rights” of enduring the distance, plus the more attractive “freebies.” It’s disappointing that there’s a lot who participate because of these things. I think the motivation of breaking our personal bests and maintaining our fitness and average pace are more rewarding than the material items we receive by signing up for races. For 10K, aim for sub 1 hour. For half marathons, aim for sub 2 hour. The time and effort you dedicate for the challenge is so much worth it.

  5. I ran on that event, it was my 4th half-marathon and it was the 1st time that I saw runners taking a break and sitting on the sidewalks. I do believe that some of the runners there are 1st timers and they did not realize how hard it can be to run in Nuvali (so many uphill segments there) escpecially a 21k. I joined the run because I wanted to beat my NatGeo PR and I always like running in Nuvali. The medals, finisher shirts, and loot bags are just extras, it should always be about improving yourself while enjoying the run at the same time. Gonna run again in Nuvali this month, the Valley Trail Challenge. I have my worries because trail running is harder and it will be my 1st 30k run, but I’m gonna do it because I always believe in improving myself.

  6. My ganyan din ako story, last power run 25km 2014,,, i ran under prepared then at the last 500m HYPOKALEMIA strikes! Nag palpitate ako ng sobrang lakas, then my hands starting to feel numb and chest is in pain as if im having an heart attack! I end up DNF and in St. Lukes BGC,,,Since then hnd pa ako bumabalik sa running, probably i was traumatized to what happened to me,,, haaayyzzzz sometimes you learn the hard way,,,

  7. Very well expressed. In order to get back what they paid, they will try ways and means . Respect the distance, especially the full marathon. Nice finisher T & medal waiting for you.

  8. I think it was the last RU1 that I realized that distances above 10k should have cut off times to be able to claim finisher loots. People sign-up for those distances to have bragging rights.
    And some of the organizers distribute finisher shirts and medals even of the participant was not able to run the event.

    But having this restriction would give organizers a bit of a hard time to get casual and inexperienced runners to join them. Ergo, less profit.

  9. Race organizers should include a fun wave (for newbies) and competitive wave ( with 2 hour cut off or sub 1 hour for 10km) and award finisher medals only to those who finish the cut off (just like of pf sub1/ 21 challenge ) this way newbies will be motivated to train and finish at a decent time and not just walk through out the race.

  10. hehehe… i feel bad but i found myself laughing at the thought of the people sitting on the sidewalk in walking shorts and canvass sneakers for a 21K run because they wanted the T-shirt? Oh my… i wouldn’t even dare try a 21K without training for it. #suicide #bigyanngjacket

  11. “On my Facebook feed I see many runners (yes, even experienced ones!) patting themselves on the back for toughing through a race despite a nagging injury, or being ill, or not having trained for it.”

    OUCH! lol

  12. What a waste of time and money. Mag jog na lang sana sila jan sa tabi tabi kung wala din naman training at preparation. Tapos sa huli pag nainjure, iiyak iyak sila. Yan consequence nila.

  13. I have an ugly experience which is sort of related to this article.

    Out of habit, I post records (pics of my GPS watch) of my solo runs (unofficial/training days) in Facebook. There came a point where I thought not to post anything for about 2 weeks. I have an FB ‘friend’ who asked why I didn’t post anything in those 2 weeks. I said that I just wanted to change the habit of not posting anything in social media about my run. He then told me that if it isn’t posted online, it didn’t happen.

    Then, very recently, this same FB friend also asked why I joined very few races this year. Year-to-date, I joined 1 run (sub1 10km) so far and then I registered for the up-coming Milo Marathon (21km). To answer his question I said: first, I am not financially ‘able’ to join many running events and second, I am choosing which I runs I want to join. The sub1 10km (by Pinoy Fitness) to make my 10km PR ‘official’, and the Milo Marathon for the experience, prestigiousness of the said event, and I am currently training to break my 21km PR (hoping to hit the sub21km barrier). He then bragged that he has joined many events (he joined I think close to 10 events year-to-date (which he of course brags about in FB), and he told me that if I don’t join many events, then my solo/training runs are meaningless. Adding that I have no medals and finisher shirts to show for.

    To be honest, I was pissed. I just said: I don’t need to join ‘mainstream’ running events nor running events in general to validate my being a runner. Also, I choose my races to give me a good amount of time to prepare and do good in that race.

    I don’t even know why I tried to explain myself to him. He seems intent that joining events left and right is the only validation that you are a true runner.

  14. I agree that people should respect the distance. But respecting the distance does not mean that it needs to be done at a certain pace or run in pro “style”. Runs have become popular precisely because people enjoy being a part of it. Not everybody runs for a PR. Sometimes its just their bucket list to say that they had joined a 21k once in their lives. Yes, even if it means they walked more than half of the distance. If they post it and brag about it to their friends then so what? They were there. They finished it. They deserve the medal. I don’t think it is much different from “real” athletes who “train” for it then post that they had a PR. It’s just different goals and different expectations.

    1. No, but respecting the distance means realizing there’s a certain level of fitness needed to complete long races, and they are doing themselves damage if they don’t train.

    2. i think what noelle is trying to say is simply train for it. Respect the distance to a point that you will actually train for it.

  15. What is sadder I think is if people who do this get discouraged from joining because the “athletes” look down or ridicule them for what they choose to do. I agree that running a 21k unprepared is a recipe for trauma, or injury or whatever else. But it was their choice to do it. What they take out of it is there choice. Not ours to criticize. Just my two cents.

    1. As a passionate runner i personally take offense sa mga tao na sumasali ng event ng walang training. Yes i criticize them and yes i look down on them simply because they look down on the sport that i love. my two cents.

  16. Cicel Reyna I think you misunderstood my post and my intention. This was not to ridicule those who sign up for long races but don’t train. Neither was it to say people should always approach races with elite mindsets or run at high speeds.

    I am just saying people need to take care of themselves better and realize there is so much more to running a race than collecting the finisher medals and loot.

    I think you think “criticism” and “panlalait” are the same things. They are not. Criticism has a valid place when it is done for the improvement of others. “Panlalait” is ridicule and shaming of others.

    If it’s not anyone’s place to say something about something that may be harmful, I suppose you don’t believe your doctor when they tell you smoking will kill you. Or you don’t think mothers should tell their kids not to touch electrical sockets.

  17. Totally agree with you. Its sad that some actually join long distance races just so they can post selfies of them on their FB wall or somehing like that. You see quite a few of them that even at gun start, they are already walking and just taking selfies or some crossing the finish line without even breaking a sweat and jumping victoriously. πŸ™

    1. I don’t mind the walkers, but I do hope that people will take the time and effort to prepare properly for long-distance races. Whether they finish fast or slow, it’s the preparation that matters so that they can finish strong, injury-free, and take even more pride in their finish.

      1. I agree πŸ™‚ because half-marathon category is not an easy one and you gotta respect not just the distance but also your body too πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.