minutes per mile blog

why i like to run marathons.

Hello from the land of speed:0924150623Only a couple of track workouts left until race day. Today’s workout was simple but looooong (for me, at least): Half-mile warm-up. Three miles fast. One mile easy. Two miles fast. Zero cool down because who has time for that? I have to do my hair and get to work.0924150708My goal was 6:40-6:45 for the fast bits, but this is what actually happened: 6:55, 6:52, 6:46 // 6:46, 6:46. A little slower than I’d hoped — but if you met your goals all the time, then they wouldn’t exactly be “goals,” right? :) Or something like that. All I know is that I gave it my best, or at least my best for today! Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. It’s been a big week of running.

When I haven’t been actually running this week, I’ve been motivating myself by  listening to the Runner’s Connect podcast. Yesterday I heard Tina ask two interviewees why they liked to run marathons. It got me thinking: why the heck do I like to run marathons, anyways? While running in circles for 45 minutes this morning I came up with the following five reasons:

  1. The distance is challenging, but forgiving. This is probably what I love the most about marathons — the distance itself. 26.2 miles sounds terribly long and painful to most people (and believe me, it can be), BUT on the plus side: because marathons are so darn long, you have plenty of extra to “make up” for a bad mile or two. Example: You miss your goal pace by 30 seconds during mile 15. At that point, you have eleven whole miles left — as long as you shave off a few seconds per mile, you’ll still be fine. In comparison, a 5k basically gives you one shot to run a stellar pace — and if you don’t hit your goal pace in the first mile, you don’t really have time to recover. The longer the course, the more pace forgiveness you can find :)purity_dairy_dash 10k 2015
  2. You never know what could happen. No matter how hard you train or how pancake-flat a marathon course is, there’s still plenty of room for random events to make your race day totally amazing or totally awful. I mean, think about it: you’re outside for 3-5 hours straight. That’s enough time for a rainstorm to settle in or the temperature to rise by 15 degrees. It’s also enough time for your stomach to cramp or a full blister to develop. Nothing’s more challenging than battling the unpredictability of TIME.
  3. Strategy is key. After racing for the past seven years, I feel like I can kind of “wing it” when it comes to half marathons and 10ks when it comes to strategy. Even if I go out too fast, I’ll probably have enough energy to push through the last few miles. In a marathon, you can’t get away with stuff like that. As one marathon taught me, you can’t step up to the start line without a pace strategy.
  4. You’re more badass than the a bunch of other runners. This one is totally shallow, but let’s face it: tons of people have run half marathons and only SOME people have run full marathons. Saying that you’ve run a FULL marathon makes you a lot more badass :)
  5. It’s actually about the training. This is true. The marathon itself is a special occasion, but when I look back on all the races I’ve run, the finish line is one of the last things that comes to mind. I remember more about the training runs, the speed workouts, and — most vividly — the conversations and experiences I had with friends during those super long Saturday runs. Even though 20+ milers can hurt, they can also be really fun if you’re in the right people and on the right route. I mean, it’s basically 3+ hours to be outside and chat about absolutely anything with your friends. Crazy long runs are pretty cool when you think about them that way!
  6. What race distance do you love, and why?

13 thoughts on “why i like to run marathons.

  1. Marathon runners are totally badass and I give them major credit. I love 10ks- they will always be my favorite race. Like you said I think a 5k is too short for any real strategy besides “finish fast”…and I’ve found that during half marathons I get bored easily or tire out to soon. Those 6.2 miles I feel like I can really come up with a good strategy and finish it with a somewhat smile on my face.

  2. I’ve only run one marathon – but yeah, totally get the badassness of it. I was supposed to run a marathon next month, but an injury cancelled those plans. I’m still running the half, but it doesn’t have the same feeling.

    HOWEVER – I love the 5K. I have some skill at it and kind of like the challenge of pushing the pace and making sure every minute counts. I keep thinking about just concentrating on 5K’s next year to see how fast I can go. I just don’t have the time to properly train for marathons until my son is a bit older!

    • do what you can! i would love to take a year and focus on shorter races. i’m sure it would help me in the long run (no pun intended…). now you’ve got me thinking :)

  3. I have to disagree about finish lines. Those are SO memorable to me. (I’ve only run two full marathons, but still — for any race!) Whether I have just conquered a huge distance that I prepared for for months, or cranked out a FAST shorter race, I feel SOOO accomplished when I hit the finish line. I also get very excited for down time and a break from scheduled running, so it all hits me at that point :)

    • to each their own! by the time i hit the finish line i am pretty much numb all over. i have only vague memories of all of my races, haha.

  4. Yay! So glad to hear you are enjoying the podcast, and yeah, it is interesting to think about why we put ourselves through it. I wonder that often, but yes, track workouts bring out the true crazy. I remember when I would do a track 10k, and it was 25 laps of pain, that was miserable! Thanks for sharing, gets me thinking it will all be worth it!

    • thanks for putting out such great content for us runners! :) also, side note: i also ran off the course route on a 10k once. i turned the wrong way when i was in first! sometimes i think the people who put out cones are kind of idiots.

  5. I really like 10ks I don’t know why. I enjoy marathons when they are over and I can say I did it. I did read about Tina’s interview yesterday on Hungryrunnergirls blog. The finish line is never close enough, hahah, I don’t remember many of them. Thanks

  6. I both love and hate the unpredictability of marathons. You can go from feeling terrible to great in a moment, or great to terrible in a moment. Isn’t that basically like life? One minute things are good/bad, the next they can change. It is all in how you deal with it!

  7. Half marathons are my favorite, because they are challenging but still easy to train for……..it doesn’t take as long to work up to 13 miles. Plus with only 2 hours out on the course, it is less time for the weather to mess you up!

    I am currently training for my second marathon, and I love that I can challenge my body to do something like that. I do feel badass when I finish those 20+ mile runs. It is more demanding on my body though, so that’s why I haven’t done more than 2 so far.