One would think because I have run marathons and coached hundreds of people to race a marathon that I would be a huge proponent of running marathons…well, I am and I am not…Let me explain.
You see, while I believe that running a marathon is a tremendous achievement for anyone (elite or novice runner), I don’t think it makes you more of a “runner” if you do one…In this case more is not necessarily better. Is a sprinter less of a runner because he’s racing only a few seconds vs. a few hours of a marathoner? Of course not.
Yet, I come across way too many individuals who love to flaunt their numerous marathon finishes, or that they are training to run uphills both ways at 10,000 feet altitude in some “Bust Your Ass Uphill Thin Air and Drop Dead Marathon” somewhere in the Himalayas. Or better yet, I love the individuals who are perpetually injured but love to tell how they ran their last marathon on a torn maniscus, shattered collar-bone, and deviated septum, and now can’t train for 6-months, but are going to try to gut it out in a month and try to “man [or woman] up” for some 30K tune up race in Antartica.
Am I saying you shouldn’t be proud of your accomplishments? No, what I’m getting at is that there are those who want everyone to “look at me” and there are those who run for themselves and don’t really care if you think they are crazy or not for wanting to run 26.2 miles on an early October/November morning somewhere in the Midwest.
So why am I in favor for running a marathon? I am in favor for the following reasons:
1. Great self-confidence builder
2. Great challenge to put on yourself
3. Training gets you into great cardiovascular shape
4. Attainable goal, but commitment is needed
5. The amount of training makes working out a habit – which is a good thing
6. Wonderful way to meet people.
7. Training gives you quality time with friends and family if they do it with you.
Why I am NOT in favor of running a marathon:
1. If you are making the training a chore and are getting no joy out of it at all
2. Because you want to see how much pain you can take
3. Because you want to be a “real runner”
4. If you are neglecting family and friends because you “have to get this training in”
5. You don’t have the correct amount of time to train for one safely
So, run a marathon because YOU want to do one, NOT because you feel everyone in your running group is doing one, so you guess you should too. That’s not a good reason. Run a marathon because you want to see if you can put in the time and effort to finish such an enormous feat. Run a marathon for a loved one, or to inspire your kids.
My favorite distance to run is the mile – I love that race. Of course, when you get to be an adult, there aren’t too many competitive mile races you can jump into, but there are a boat load of marathons to enter. Right now, at 45, with two kids, a wife, a job, a club team I coach 8 months out of the year and my new found love for track & field, I like the IDEA of being in marathon shape, but don’t have the desire to run a marathon right now; I understand the amount of time, sacrifice, rest and training it takes to reach one’s marathon goal, and I simply don’t have the focus or want to do that right now.
So, please run a marathon…or don’t…you will still be a runner either way. Just run one for the right reasons, that’s all I ask.
Happy training to you!