Marathon Madness – Not For Everyone

1983 Marine Corps Marathon

I didn’t think it would take too long before I did a running post.

I know I am spouting blasphemy but I really do not believe that all runners aspire to running a marathon or an Ultra as the ultimate prize of running.

Over the past few years, there has been such an emphasis on those two segments of the running world, culture, community or whatever the hell you want to call it, that it almost seems that if you don’t do marathons or ultras you are somehow being left behind.

ummm cough, sneeze….bullshit!

Personally, I would love to be able to train for and run a marathon again, but an ultra, well that doesn’t really trip my trigger. Unfortunately, I have a small problem, my body does not hold up to marathon training.

Which means that my probability of ever running one, much less racing one again are pretty slim.

Wanting to run one versus being able to run one are two different things.

The other part is that I really don’t think that I have ever forgotten the fiasco that 1983 became and mentally, I am not ready to do another one.

So for the foreseeable future I will focus on shorter distances and do the training that my body can withstand and I am good with that.

You know something, I don’t really think that I am alone.

There are a lot of runners out here in the wild, who will never run a marathon or further and have their own very good reasons, not to get sucked into marathon madness (which I have done a couple of times and probably will again at some point – just being honest).

Personally, I think the running media and sometimes our running friends put too much emphasis on running or racing a marathon as being soooooo damn important. That many runners get caught up in the idea of how great it would be to have a marathon or ultra on their running resume.

That bragging rights thang, some of us get caught up in.

It sets up unrealistic expectations for many runners and can take the joy out of why they became runners in the first place. We all have our reasons for running and for most it didn’t start with wanting to run a marathon or ultra marathon.

Then I have to ask, are marathons (big and small), becoming more an event that people do, than a race, where people train for and challenge themselves to do their best that day?

I don’t know, but I do know an awful lot of people are doing marathons now and having fun doing them, so I don’t want to come across as this crotchety old fart, who remembers how things used to be more competitive and races were races and less of an event. I know most of us compete with ourselves and competition has a different connotation for every runner, but that is a whole different post and books will be written about it.

To each their own and any way you look at it, we are all runners and are out there putting one foot in front of the other, no matter the distance we choose to run.

What do you think?

Will you run a marathon or ultra? Will you run one again – why?

What are your reasons for wanting to do a marathon or like me not doing a marathon anytime soon?






8 responses to “Marathon Madness – Not For Everyone”

  1. andy nagelin Avatar

    I’ve run a bunch of marathons and hope to run some more.
    The whole running thing has become so commercial, industrialized. Even when I go to the Boston Marathon Expo to pick up my number, I hardly ever buy anything, and there is a lot to buy.
    While I enjoy Boston, I also love going to a 5K in a small town put on by the Little League team or PTO. No hoopla and balloons. Just running.
    A marathon is a major under-taking. I call it a “D-Day” like operation. So much planning and so much effort goes into doing it. Your heart really needs to be in it.
    I’ve run a marathon or two when my heart wasn’t in it and it meant nothing. All that work for nothing. I’ll never do that again.
    I have a chance to run Boston next year. Just not sure my heart is in it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Harold L. Shaw Avatar

      Andy – Sometimes we have to stop and take a look at the why, not just the I can and then be happy with what we are doing.

      I know during your 5K a week for a year, it wore on you and you were not enjoying them as much as you were at the start. I am jealous of your ability to run marathons and wish my body could hold up to the training like your’s does. We just have to look for the joy in our running and what makes us happy :-).

      Someday, I will do some of the bigger races, but for now I prefer the small local ones that often have a homemade pie or something like that as prizes and knowing what my entry fee actually goes for.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ed Avatar

    I love the long stuff and my body holds up. But I don’t feel fast enough running marathons and ultras, And it takes a shit ton of time in short supply. Much more satisfying for me to be doing the 5k/10K/10m/13.1 distances at faster paces and less training time.


    1. Harold L. Shaw Avatar

      That is the hard part about marathon training is finding the time for it and still having a life beyond the training schedule. Your life has to basically revolve around your training, whereas with the shorter distances, (depending upon your goals), your running can fit around your life a lot easier. I like running faster and shorter, even if I ain’t that fast anymore. 🙂


  3. wanderwolf Avatar

    I agree, even though I have run a few and plan to run a few more.
    Running has become a lot more open to people of all abilities and speeds. We see this in the vastly changed average finish times of races all across the distances.
    This is a good thing. It gives many a sense of self worth where they otherwise feel they can’t have any, etc.. I support this 100%. On the other hand, I learned in track that it’s not about how far you can go. It’s about how well you can do in the event that you’re talented for. Everyone can run and learn to run fast (relative). However, some people are naturally more talented at longer distances, and some at shorter. I know anyone could run a marathon… it just takes smart training (yes, even you Harold. You just need to work on building mileage SlOwlY). But I don’t think a marathon or ultra is the pinnacle of running achievement. I would pick an overall or age group win in a 10k over a marathon completion any day. 🙂


    1. Harold L. Shaw Avatar

      Doing the events that make a runner happy are/is the important thing and going beyond your comfort zone from time-to-time is a good thing, but I guess I am tired of the notion/hoopla that the marathon seems to generate amongst the running media, who makes it sound as if the shorter distances don’t matter anymore or are not as noteworthy. I am pretty sure that I could train to finish a marathon, however, me being me, I have a certain time that I want to accomplish and that makes the training more difficult, which in turn my body rebels against. So while at some point will probably train for another one, I have to make finishing the goal, not a time (tough for a leopard to change his spots though at this point, when he still believes he is a speed demon 😉 hehehe and now resembles and sounds more like a warthog running. I will stick to chasing age groups and top 10-50 placing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. txa1265 Avatar

    The thing that caught me up several years ago, when I first started racing was the whole ‘progression’ aspect – you do 5K, then 10k, half, and full. After 23 years of running I should have known better, yet it wasn’t until I’d done a full marathon that I could finally cut myself some slack on the whole ‘am I a REAL runner?’ thing. Stupid, I know.

    And yeah, there is definitely that hype … but also a desire for us as runners to challenge ourselves, to test our limits, to break outside the comfort zone.

    For me, distance comes ‘easy’ – speed does not! I would MUCH rather run a half marathon than a 5K. For others, the 5K is their absolute wheelhouse, and they should be happy and proud – but I have seen some people almost embarrassed about liking short races best.

    And I have seen people who felt determined to run marathons end up injured … only to feel that pressure to try again the next year. And I’m not even thinking about you – it has happened to just too many people.

    I like it when I see someone who has figured out what races work best for them and stick with those … I hate seeing people getting hurt, maybe because that is my biggest fear. I don’t take the fact that I am approaching 28 years of uninjured running for granted …


    1. Harold L. Shaw Avatar

      I am so jealous of your being able to run those distances, but you have also worked hard to get to that level and stay there. Sometimes I think the combo of always attempting to increase your speed/distance is the leading cause of injuries and you have reached the right balance for you.

      For the near future, once the achilles gets completely, not just partially healed. If things are going good stretch it out to the half for next June’s Rail Trail Half Marathon to establish a nice aerobic base and then for the rest of 2017 focus on the mile to 5K distances, which I actually prefer and chase a few age 60 age groups after August.

      We are all real runners and get to have fun being that, but with the running media focused so much on the marathon like you say we all get caught up in the need to go for it.


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