Photo Jen A. Miller runs a race in Washington Crossing, Pa.Credit
I set my personal record of 22:12 for a 5K when I was 25, in the first race I ever ran. I went through 12 weeks of training to prepare for it because a magazine I was writing for had asked me to run, and then write about, the experience.
This was in 2006, at the lip of the second running boom. The previous year, 9.44 million people had completed road races in the United States, according to Running USA. By 2014, the number of finishers hit 18.75 million.
When I ran that 5K, I had no idea if my time was any good. I also had no idea whether I’d stick with the sport. I did, and that number – 22:12 – stayed as a fixture in my rear view mirror over the next nine-and-a-half years.
I moved up to 10 milers and half marathons, then marathons. Because I was training for longer distances and did speed work for those races, I figured my 5K record was untouchable. Workouts designed to make me faster in the marathon focused on building speed over distance…