Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why a marathon and not a 5k?

Why run a marathon?  People ask me why I feel the need to run a marathon all the time.  They follow that question up with comments like, “why not run a 5k or 10k?”  A lot of people see the sheer distance of a marathon as ridiculous and many view them as unhealthy in the end.  That much running can cause joint issues or damage to your knees.

Yes, I have heard all this, but what the people who say these things don’t take into account are the positive things training and running a marathon can do for an individual.  Running is a lifestyle for some people, not just an exercise.

I grew up in a running family.  Before I could walk I was in a stroller going along on group runs with the Hash House Harriers.  The Hash is an international running group that mixes exercising and socializing into one event.  Even though the Hash is probably not the most appropriate group for children to hang around with, in large part because it is a group that circles around drinking and crude humor, it is a great experience that I highly recommend to all.  The group, and every hash is a bit different, is a game really.  One person, the hare, sets out before the group and marks a trail as s/he goes.  At points along the trail the hare will make misleading markings on the trail to send the runners, or hounds, in the wrong direction.  The point is for the runners to find the end by following the hare’s trail and not falling for the misleading markings that might be found.  The end of the run is always at a bar or pub of some sort.  Running to most of the people in these groups is both fun and a lifestyle.  They integrate running into their socializing.  This was my first lesson in living life as a runner.

With this being my first introduction to running you might be able to see why running is a part of who I am today and a part of what makes running a part of my lifestyle.  If that weren’t enough then you should know that my parents weren’t just hashers as I grew up, nope, they were racers.  I can’t tell you how many marathons, including the Boston Marathon, my mom and dad ran because they ran in so many!  To top it off they also have both run 50 mile races and Ultra Marathons (which is a 100 mile race).  I can’t close my eyes and remember a time when my family wasn’t running.  It became a part of me and is in my blood.

With that explained you probably are asking, what does running a marathon do for me personally in a positive way?  You get that running in general is a part of me at this point, but why not a 5k or a shorter race?  Well for me running a marathon, as oppose to a shorter race, gives me a long-term goal to focus on.  I can run a 5k in my sleep with no preparation.  A marathon though, that’s a challenge.  I live for challenges.  A marathon takes 16 – 18 weeks of dedicated training.  It’s a test of determination, organization and dedication.  Running a marathon is not about just going out for runs until you are ready for race day. Marathons take strictly calculated running calendars to be successful.  You can’t allow yourself to over sleep or go to happy hour instead of train.  You must train.

This need to keep on track keeps me from getting off track in life.  It proves to me that I can accomplish my goals.  Completing a marathon shows me that I can do anything I want to do in life.  It may sound crazy, but I do need to prove to myself from time to time that I am more than a gay guy drinking on the scene every night of the week, not that I have been accused of that or anything, but it gives me a personal goal outside of work and the bar scene.

On a different level, training for a marathon allows me to connect with my mother who lives hundreds of miles away.  If we were running a 5K we would sign up for it and not talk about it again until race day.  With a marathon we track our progress together, we motivate each other, we support each other and then we run the race together.  It gives me a way to feel like, even while living far away from home, home is still a part of me.

Basically running makes me feel free.  Work disappears for a moment.  Family and friend drama melts away.  Bills take a side step.  Life, for the moment, is nothing but my feet hitting the ground and carrying me forward.  Running is a lifestyle and huge part of me.

Ready to Run by the Dixie Chicks