Do You Marathon?

Posted by Filed Under: Inspiration & Motivation

There is no doubt that out of all the road running distances available, the marathon has by far the most appeal. Nearly everyone who has run a 5k or a 10k will, at some stage, dream about running the “big one” one day. And, even though this is not recommended, a lot of would-be runners will pick a marathon as their first ever race. They usually plan this as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience, but many people end up getting bitten by the running bug for good.

Running 26.2 miles is a daunting task, no matter how you put it, and that does not depend on the ability of the runner. I have heard countless stories about first time runners’ struggles, from the experienced and competitive racer who was confident of beating 3 hours but ended up with 3:20 after some painful last few miles, to the walker who took over 6 hours to finally limp across the line equally exhausted. You might think that it gets easier with experience, but that is no guarantee for a strong finish either, as I personally found out last week. This was my 10th race of marathon distance or longer, and I was confident I would be able to finish strongly. However, my legs gave out on me with 6 miles to go, and the last stretch was just as much a struggle as it had been 4 years ago, when I had gotten my first taste of the distance, on the very same course. Others have similar tales to tell.

Of course, it is the size of the task that creates the appeal. While I don’t quite subscribe to the idea that crossing the finishing line of a marathon is a life-changing event, it clearly is an exhilarating experience and the pride and satisfaction that comes from completing such an intimidating challenge is immense. On the other hand, it can also be a very humbling experience. Having to slow down dramatically over the last miles is never nice and the pain that comes with it will remind you just how unforgiving the marathon can be.

Despite all this, the numbers are growing steadily. In 2007, more than 403,000 runners finished a marathon in the USA alone, a figure that has been growing year on year, and the trend is expected to continue. Big city events can be watched live on television, and it’s clearly the hobby runners, not the elites, that are the biggest draw to the audiences. While some people bemoan the fact that slow joggers are taking the competitive element out of it, most people agree that the growing numbers are a positive development.

Our favourite sport is likely to keep going for some time to come.

Photo credit: Caaaait on Flickr.

About Thomas Bubendorfer

I started running in 2004 with the goal to complete the Dublin marathon. After finishing a few minutes above 4 hours I got ambitious and decided to break the 4 hours barrier, which took two more marathons and a few painful experiences. By then I was fully hooked to running and decided to see how good a runner I could become. In the meantime I have managed to lower my best marathon time to 3:09, and I'm aiming for the sub-3 hours target. I have also fallen in love with ultra running, and despite an egregious lack of ultras in Ireland have plans for a few longer adventures over the next couple of years.

  1. sarah on November 4th at 6:42 am

    I can proudly say (as of Sunday, October 19) that yes, I run marathons. OK, at least one marathon (Detroit Marathon). But it is certainly not the last! It took me 2 years of serious running to get to the point of crossing the finish line of a marathon. I’m proud to say I even cracked the four-hour barrier in my first marathon. My next goal is to qualify for Boston. I only missed my age group’s BQ time by a mere six minutes and 2 seconds.

    Even if I never run another marathon (barring disaster) I can always say I did, once, and it was amazing.

    sarahs last blog post..Least Creative Costume Ever

  2. Annalisa on November 5th at 9:39 am

    I would LOVE to put myself in that revered category of runner, but haven’t been able to accomplish that goal… YET. Injury and time to train are the big obstacles for me, but I keep trying. One day!

    Annalisas last blog post..Halloween antics

  3. Duff on November 5th at 12:16 pm

    The marathon is an amazing event. I have four under my belt and will continue as long as my legs hold out. I will say a couple of things for any first timers out there.
    1. The primary goal of the first marathon is to finish. The time is for smiling about afterwards not worrying about before or during.
    2. The second goal is to figure out where you went wrong in your training. There is at least one thing and for me there were many.
    C. You will always remember your first. It is when you became a Marathoner. Like Eagle Scout or Gold Award (I think it is the Girl Scout equivelent), it can never be taken away from you and you should wear it like a badge of honor. Unless your name is Rosie Ruiz.
    And Delta. Don’t miss the massage afterwards it is awesome.
    Rock on.

    Duffs last blog post..Over/Under: Its a gamble how my foot strikes

  4. Mom On The Run on November 6th at 2:37 pm

    I think its fantastic that so many americans have gotten bit by the marathon bug and have gotten up off of the couch to run! I just hope the trend continues and more people strive to become healthier. I’ve completed 2 and had one 1 DNF. I found that after tackling the distance I slacked in my training thinking, this is easy, I can do it again….