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Do You Have to Run Far?

By: Rick

I have a confession. I’ve never run a marathon… or even a half-marathon for that matter. In fact, the longest race I’ve ever run was a 10-miler. In the eyes of many, this means that I’m not a ‘real’ runner. And as the founder of UESCA, this is likely inexcusable!

I have a Facebook friend who recently completed their first and only marathon. In their post, they included the obligatory finish line and finisher’s medal pictures, as well as stating that only .01% of the population has finished a marathon and that they have no desire to ever do one again. Additionally, they bragged that they never ran more than 7 miles at a time and yet they still completed a marathon.

You’re Not a Bada** Unless…

I’m all for big and outrageous goals but this post bothered me as it’s representative of what I consider to be a current trend… you have to run long or else it doesn’t really matter. Whether it be a marathon, 100 miles or 200 miles, the message is clear – if you want to be a bada**, you have to run far. Or to expand this message a bit further, if you don’t run ‘far,’ you’re not a ‘real’ runner.

To be clear, I categorically disagree with this sentiment on multiple levels.

  • First, I firmly believe that if you run, you’re a runner.
  • Second, distance has no bearing on whether or not you’re a bada** or not.
  • Third, running far is not necessarily harder than running a shorter distance, it’s just different
  • Lastly, finishing a race qualifies you for ‘bragging rights,’ regardless of the distance

Try to Deadlift 700 lbs!

The distance topic always reminds to of the argument of what is the ‘hardest’ sport or who is the best athlete? Is a triathlon harder than the 800 meters on the track? Is an ultrarunner a better athlete than a powerlifter? These questions are incredibly ridiculous because they cannot be answered. It is completely subjective based on what someone believes to be the most important factor. For example, if endurance is one’s benchmark for what a ‘real’ athlete is, then sure, an ultrarunner is a better athlete than a powerlifter. However, if strength and power is one’s benchmark… sorry ultrarunners, you’re not real athletes. See the absurdity?

As someone who ran relatively short distances in collegiate track and cross-country, I can tell you that distances from 800M to 5,000M are extremely painful and are just as deserving as being a ‘bucket list’ goal as that of a marathon or ultramarathon.

Potential Consequence


There are so many benefits to endurance sports (and exercise in general) that I fear that some people don’t get started in a sport such as running because they don’t think they can ever run a marathon. Perhaps it never occurs to them that they can target a 5K, or even a mile as their focus goal.


Now, of course, there is nothing at all wrong with targeting a marathon or an ultramarathon as a target goal, but my only point is that it shouldn’t be from the perspective that running a long distance is the only way to be a ‘real’ runner and moreover, a prerequisite to being considered a runner.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get in my ‘miles’ by trying to keep up with my toddler, who I’m pretty sure can beat me in the 5-meter dining room to playroom sprint!

Photo of author

About Rick

Rick Prince is the founder of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science-based endurance sports education company. UESCA educates and certifies running, ultrarunning, nutrition, cycling and triathlon coaches worldwide on a 100% online platform.

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