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Why I Don’t Want to Run A Marathon

Run_Oregon_LogoAs a runner, I get asked on a regular basis if I run marathons. My standard answer is that I draw the line at the half marathon distance. If the conversation is with another runner, inevitably I am told, "You have to run at least one marathon!"  Why is that? The answers I have been given are all over the board and quite unconvincing. I've listened to all the arguments trying to convince me that I have to run a marathon.  Here's why I don't want to.

I didn’t sign up for this. When I first started running I had no thoughts of ever running any type of race.  I just wanted runner’s legs. (See my article about how I got started: My Quest for Runner’s Legs or Why I Started Running.) It didn’t take long to get sucked into the world of races and soon I began enjoying the challenge and thrill of racing.  But, my goal wasn’t a marathon.  It was runner’s legs.  Now I’m a runner and I have legs that run.  Quest complete!

Half marathons still kick my butt. Since I began racing in 2001, I’ve run a total of 20 half marathons and one 30K.  Nothing longer. The 30K was a huge challenge and I’m quite proud of that accomplishment. The more half marathons I’ve run, the less brutal they’ve become, but they are still challenging.  Each one has kicked my butt. Sometimes because I wasn’t as well-trained as I should have been,  other times because I was shooting for a PR.  Either way, I’ve never finished and thought, “I could totally run that course again!” I’m always very happy to have finished.

Near the finish line at one of my favorite Half Marathons.

It’s a huge time commitment. Sure, I’ve had the thought that, “After this half, I should try and extend my training and shoot for a marathon.”  That thought was always when I started training. After finishing the half I had been training for I would think, “Are you crazy? A half marathon is plenty! I’m exhausted!”  Whenever I have started thinking about how many hours I would need to commit to training for a marathon it becomes overwhelming.  I run slow. Training for a marathon just might encompass my entire calendar! (When’s the next 10K?)

Running a marathon is like having a baby. Not long after I got married (in my 20s) people began asking, “When are you going to have kids?” That question always put me on the defensive because I wasn’t anywhere near ready to have kids. Just because of my age and my marital status, why was there suddenly an expectation of reproduction? That is how I feel when people ask me when I’m going to run a marathon. Just because I run doesn’t mean I have to do a marathon. There is no rule! Both pregnancy and marathon running are a huge commitment. One should not jump into either one just because the rest of the world thinks you should. You need to be ready and you should want to do it more than anything else.

I’m OK with where I’m at. Often I’m told I have to run a marathon just to say I’ve done it. Well friends, I’m really OK with saying I haven’t done it. I have plenty of running goals. It’s not like I’m stuck in a rut. I want to improve my times at the various distances I do run. I’ve added obstacle course racing to my race calendar over the last few years and am working to improve my obstacle skills. I’m always striving towards something. Having goals is a regular part of my life. But right now, my goals do not include running a marathon and I’m OK with that.

I’m not saying never. We all know how that usually turns out. I’m just saying not now and not unless I suddenly feel the desire to take on that challenge. So go ahead, ask a runner if they’ve run a marathon. But, if they say no, don’t tell them they have to. If they want to they will, in their own time.

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About Annette Vaughan (298 Articles)
Annette Vaughan is a runner, personal trainer, and race director in Canby, Oregon. She began running at the age of 30 and became hooked after her first race (even though she is a self-proclaimed slow runner.) She enjoys small local races from 5Ks to half-marathons, with a 30K on the books as her longest run ever. She has also become a huge fan of obstacle course races and just can't get enough of them. Annette is the race director for Get A Clue Scavenger Race and owns a personal training studio in Canby. She believes in promoting movement, since our bodies were designed to move. The more we move, the better we move and function in everyday life.

17 Comments on Why I Don’t Want to Run A Marathon

  1. Well said. I DO run marathons (sometimes 2–3 per year) and lately, as I’m slogging through my second 20-mile training run, I wonder, “Why am I doing this?” A recent knee injury (certainly due to overuse) is causing me to drastically scale back my mileage, and I’m looking forward to the still-challenging but not-nearly-as-time-consuming half marathons. It’s my favorite distance. I’m glad you enjoy them, too.

  2. Geli Heidelberger // April 5, 2015 at 2:24 PM // Reply

    Well said, Annette! I wholeheartedly agree! 🙂

  3. You’re spot on, and don’t change if you don’t wish to.

    I haven’t run in years, but I did run in two Portland Marathons. Both times, it was all I thought, ate, and slept. Consequently, I burned out on running for a good 3-4 months after each one. 10k’s were my favorite race. Whatever you like, stick with it. You’ll stay in the sport longer.

  4. Well said! I’ve had this conversation so many times, and it’s great to know other runners feel the same way. It’s hard when you feel pressured to run a distance you don’t want to run (for any number of reasons), and then are made to feel ‘less’ of a runner for opting out of said distance. Thanks for saying what so many of us have felt.

    • Thanks, Beth! I’m glad there are others out there that feel the same way. We are all on our own journeys. No one should be made to feel “less of a runner” based on how far they run. If you run, you are a runner! Enjoy your running. 🙂

  5. Well said! I’ve had this conversation so many times, and it’s great to know other runners feel the same way. It’s hard when you feel pressured to run a distance you don’t want to run (for any number of reasons), and then are made to feel ‘less’ of a runner for opting out of said distance. Thanks for saying what so many of us have felt.

  6. Jessica @ VEGGIE RUNNING MOMMA // April 6, 2015 at 11:23 AM // Reply

    Love this.! Although I do want to run a marathon some day.. I am in absoultly no hurry. I love the half marathon distance also 🙂

  7. I totally agree with you. It doesn’t take running a marathon to turn someone into a runner. There’s more pride is doing a half marathon (or any distance) well than running a terrible marathon. Distance isn’t everything.

  8. krissy m. murphy // April 6, 2015 at 1:25 PM // Reply

    I LOVE marathons, but everyone has their love! You do you! 😀 Life would be boring if we all liked the exact same things. I am changing my focus this year since I already ran 4 in the first quarter and focusing on shorter distances.

  9. I am one of those crazy people who run a lot of half marathons. Last year I ran 38 of them, and I’m up to 74 total. I still haven’t run a marathon, although I ran 16 miles twice (and only because it was a 5K followed by a half). I’m 55 years old and I don’t know if my body can stand the training for a marathon. It has enough problems just running 13.1 miles.

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