Marathon Envy?

Oh gosh that looks so fun.
Photo:Martineric

I've never seriously considered training for a marathon. I understand you have to run 26 miles... all in a row! On the same day! Here in Slackerville, that just ain't gonna happen.

Yet every now and then, from the depths of my subconcious, a sinister voice pipes up. "Go for it," the voice says, sounding all sexy and seductive. "It would be so cool to run a whole marathon and cross that finish line and feel so proud of yourself!"

"Shut up, sinister voice," I'll say, (or lets pretend I would, as I'm not actually schizophrenic). "Don't be stupid! Training for a marathon is hard! Not to mention the whole getting up early thing, and the lines for the porta potties..."

"But you'd get to brag to all your friends that you ran a marathon! Plus think how many cupcakes you could eat if you were running all those miles!

"Wait... Cupcakes?"

But I've never taken Sinister Voice too seriously. Given my lifestyle (lazy) and my fitness goals (modest) and my time management skills (nonexistent) and my knees (crappy), a marathon would just be a doofy waste of already-hard-to-come-by motivation.

And yet, Sinister Voice would always return another day to nag me again.

It seems like if you run at all, the idea of a marathon is always sort of hanging out there, poking and prodding at you. Of course in the old days, it was this freakishly hard-core thing to do, and it was easier to dismiss. Then it got to be a much more mainstream goal. Heck, even spoiled celebrities run marathons now, and if they can drag their over-scheduled, undernourished butts 26 miles to the finish line ... why shouldn't I give it a go?

Because I don't want to?

Actually, I'm still mad at the stupid Greek guy, Phidippides, who started this whole "marathon" business 2500 or so years ago. Why couldn't he have dropped dead after, say 5 miles? Or not dropped dead at all? Then they'd never come up with this arbitrary measure of fitness that I keep trying to pretend I don't care about.

However, after years of bickering with the Voice, I've noticed a curious thing lately... Silence.

That persistent sense that I should be aspiring to run a marathon? It seems to finally be slipping away. Hooray!

Now this is not to say that running a marathon (or a bunch of them or whatever) is not a great goal for plenty of runners. If you train properly, and pay attention to injuries, and have the spare time so that it's not gonna mess up the rest of your life... I say go for it!

But if you, like me, have been looking for reasons to say "screw it" to the whole marathon temptation, here are few suggestions for talking yourself down.

1. Consider your immune system. As Charlotte pointed out in a recent post over at The Great Fitness Experiment, intense endurance exercises actually makes you more vulnerable to bugs than moderate exercise, not less.

2. Watch out for heart trouble. Fitsugar recently discussed the issue, and there's a good rundown of some of the risks in this Men's Health article. Bottom line: they're not sure if it's permanent or temporary damage that marathon running does to your heart, but your at far less risk of ticker trouble if you're running at least 45 miles a week before competing in a marathon.

3. Jenn at Fit Bottomed Girls is not letting the stupid scale get in the way of her marathoning goals. But I gotta say: I'm more shallow than she is. If I found, as she has, that marathon training was increasing hunger significantly, and it was leading to weight gain? I'd want to be damn sure it was extra muscle or I'd say the heck with the extra running.

4. Running a marathon does not necessarily lead to long-term fitness. This Wall Street Journal article discusses the all-too-frequent phenomenon of eager runners working up to completing a marathon and then, due to burn-out, deciding to hang up their sneakers for good.

5. Fitness is not just about endurance, and "more" isn't necessarily better when it comes to cardio. If you hang out at Mark's Daily Apple at all, Mark is pretty darn convincing about the futility of trying to meet all your fitness goals by overdosing on cardio. Sure, some is good, but more isn't necessarily better! And it's not just the Primal people--more and more we seem to be getting the message that there's a crapload of different stuff you need to do to be fit and healthy. Are you going to be able to keep up on your strength training and balance training and High Intensity Intervals and flexibility and functional fitness and breathing and core etc, etc, etc, if you're doing marathon training?

6. All that pounding can exacerbate injuries. For me, it's my knees; I know I'd be risking my ability to run at all if I insisted on putting in the kind of miles it takes for marathon training. Now plenty of people run marathons while dealing with chronic injuries, and have no problems at all. But others put race deadlines ahead of common sense and end up trashing their knees, hips, feet, back, or whatever because they couldn't chill and take the necessary recuperation time.

What about you guys? Training for a marathon? Tempted? Or No Way in Hell?

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