The Age Old Debate.
Is it better to be great at one thing or good at a number of things. Is it better to have one great love of your life or to have experienced love with a number of people. Is it better to be a master of one trade or a handy man at a number of skills.
And finally a little closer to home for us runners. Would it be better to focus solely on and dedicate all your training to qualify for Boston. Or train for a number of different race lengths but never zeroing in on one goal race?
I’ve asked a few of my new followers on Twitter this very question to get their differing perspectives.
For me one quality goal race per year aiming for peak performance. The other races I use as training runs or time trials to see where I’m at. I enjoy racing & race goals & PBs/PRs is what motivates me. Personally, I don’t think I could stay motivated to train for one goal race over many years as my main running goal(i.e. Boston).
Joshua, @bayou of Run It Fast® http://runitfast.com
I’ve never set a goal to run the Boston Marathon, there are many “Boston’s.” My long-term goal has always been to run the Badwater 135. I’ll finally, after many races and years of hard work, get that chance in July this year.
The Marathon Maniacs, focuses on quantity, quantity, and more quantity. Most Maniacs are slower marathoners that do insane numbers of marathons every year. It’s all about racking up the most number of marathons and earning different levels of stars within the club. After about 15 marathons I wondered what else was out there. After a while they are like running on a track. Numbers are nice, but I enjoy seeing how well I can do every race and distance I attempt. I believe being around similarly minded people only helps to become better and challenge myself.
It led me to create Run It Fast® – The Club which is open to runners of all levels. It created an amazing community of runners from all over the globe that wanted to go further, faster, and find out what they were actually capable of. It’s been a joy to watch so many that were 5K’ers run their first half, full, ultra and 100.
In my case, quantity has led to quality. It made me amazingly tough by doing 35 races a year that averaged 50 miles in distance. Finishing and surviving the Vol State 500K three times has made me extremely tough overall and that has improved me as a runner and ultra marathoner. Every runner is different and must find out along the way whether they enjoy being able to race several times a year or if training extremely hard for a chance at Boston is more rewarding.
1. If you are talking specifically about races, right now I am focused on one main race to hopefully Boston Qualify. While that is the main race that I am working towards, I do throw other races into it because I think that helps get you very valuable practice in a racing environment as well as to see where you are at. I use smaller, varying length, races almost as a “test run” for the big day.
2. I also look at this question in the long term. When you are working hard to get faster specifically that causes a lot of wear and tear on the body. If you asked me 7 months ago (before I got diagnosed with a femoral stress fracture) I would have told you that I don’t care about anything else all I want to do is get that Boston Qualifier. However, now even though I will still work hard towards getting my BQ if I knew that I had to give up that dream in order to have many many years of healthy running I would. To me even though quality is important, my health is first and foremost. I would rather run slower and various distances if it meant keeping me healthy.
For now, as long as I feel my body is strong enough to handle it I am still aiming for the Boston Qualifying marathon!
I’ve wrestled with this question throughout my life. I have had many different hobbies, I’ve built scale models, flew R/C airplanes, collected comics and NFL game used football gear. And I’ve been a motor head collecting muscle cars most of my life. Do I really want to be good at one sport or play them all. Do I want to know everything about one subject or have a wider scope of knowledge?
With running and racing I struggled with the same question for a number of years. Qualify for Boston (Quality) or run every race no matter what the length or location just because I want to without (Quantity) regard to reaching maximum performance. I finally came to terms that I want to run races of varying lengths and location to gain the Quality and quantity of experiences over one outstanding run.
I’m not saying that this is the right answer for everyone, this a deeply personal question and answer. And I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer, I respect everyone’s personal answer.
I would rather run races of varying lengths and locations as they become available vs. concentrating all my efforts on one run at one location for one goal. I’ve accepted that I may never reach my maximum potential in anyone race distance. In trade I’ll accept slower race times at all race lengths over varying terrain. I will race 5k, 10k and half marathons at local events. I’ll run the big city marathons around the United States while on vacation with my family. I will set my sights on running the JFK 50 miler, the Graveyard 100k, and maybe one day the Leadville 100 and the Western States 100. I also look forward to one day running the Grand Canyon rim 2 rim 2 rim and the Tahoe rim race.
I’m not saying I won’t try to get faster and run my best, I just won’t focus so much on one race to miss out on another. For me it’s not about giving up on what I could achieve but gaining 100s of experiences that will make me who I am.
How about you quality vs. quantity…what is best for you?