If you are a runner, you consider running a marathon at one point or another.
You don’t have to run one, it won’t make you a better or worse runner, it’s not a rite of passage, or a title you must own. But you will think about it, ponder if you should do it.
Here are the reasons why I decided against running a marathon this year, and why you might too:
- Get the body adjusted: Running a marathon is hard on our bodies. Jumping into it with just a few months of running background is not enough. We’ve all seen the 4 months training plans, they are great and they work, but it’s not always clear that to start one of those programs we need to have a solid running base. I’ve been running for a year, to me that’s just not enough. I know I can run a marathon if I wanted to, but at what pace? How would my body react? Would I be risking injury? I need more time.
- Haven’t trained enough: I could have played this one differently, but it just didn’t happen. By the time I started thinking about running a marathon, it would have been a tight schedule to make the February/March marathons coming up in Israel. Rushing training, especially for my first marathon didn’t make sense. Sure, I could find a race abroad that fit my schedule, but I rather keep it local for a first, and avoid the extra stress.
- I have no time: Not only will marathon training require 4 months, something we don’t always have, but also those few hours long runs would take me away from family/work/life. I know it’s doable, but now it’s not the right time for me.
- I’m scared shitless of the distance: Yes, it’s true. 42.2KM/26.2M scare me. I’ve been getting better at long runs, and have made it up to 25KM/15.5M feeling good both during and after, but still, I’m a long way away from 42.2KM/26.2M.
- If I do it, then it has to be good: Many people run a marathon for the experience, a one-time thing that you treasure forever, even if it took them 7 hours and they walked half the distance. I accept we all have different reasons for doing all things in life. However for me, when I do run a marathon, I’m going to push myself to get the best time I can manage. For that I need good training, smart training. Sure I could wake up tomorrow morning and run/walk a 42.2KM/26.2M, but that’s not my goal.
- I don’t want to hurt myself: This year has been a good running year for me. I started training and running much harder than I was, I made progress, and I want it to stay that way at least until the end of this running season. I know I can run a marathon without hurting myself, hopefully, but I’m not willing to risk it.
- It’s not going to improve my running: As much as I like a good challenge, the distance, the time spent running, the glory of saying “I did it”, running a marathon is not going to do anything for my running. It won’t make me a faster runner, it won’t make me a better runner.
And here are a few reasons why I might run one next year:
- I love running: Oh you knew that..? Well, it’s true. Mastering a training plan, doing all the training runs, managing longer and longer runs, all that sounds like a lot of fun for me.
- Smart planning: There is still a lot of time until next year’s marathons, so I’ll be able to plan accordingly. I can take a rest period before I start training so my body is well rested before I start to push it, I can schedule a few weekend mornings away from home for the long runs, etc. The gift of time.
- Body and mind in the right place: This might not be the same for everyone, but I feel like running a marathon will mean a big investment from me in terms of time, mental energy, body strength, etc. The more time I have to come to terms with it, plan accordingly, and get my body and mind to the right place, the better.
- Bragging rights: come on, it’s not like you any of us are or would keep quiet about running a marathon… the sooner I do it, the sooner I can brag about it.
Have you thought of running a marathon? Have you run one? What made you make the decision to run it or not?
50 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Running a Marathon This Year”
It sounds like you made a well thought out choice. I am int he same boat. I was going to run a marathon this year but I chose I wasn’t willing to give up my life to running. Instead I chose a Pentathlon, a half trail marathon and an attempt to climb Mount Rainier. All of these need marathon level amounts of training but they seem so much more fulfilling than a marathon.
Sounds very exiting! Good luck.
All very good reasons! Isn’t it silly that as runners we naturally feel inadequate if we haven’t done a marathon? Like we’re not bad-ass enough and need to make excuses why we haven’t done one? That’s so silly! I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to do one and you’ve made me feel a bit better for not (for now). Thanks for this post!
I know what you mean!! Regardless of how I feel about something, I try to make decisions with my head, not let feelings of ‘should do’, ‘not good enough if’, ‘must do’, influence my thinking.
I hope I do decide to run a marathon some day, but it has to be under the right circumstances.
It sounds like you’ve got good, thoughtful reasons to not do a marathon this year. You’re running so well, and having so much fun doing it, it probably does make sense to hold off — for now. But whenever you decide the time is right, I’m sure you’ll nail it with your usual combination of meticulous planning, talent and enthusiasm.
Thanks for your kind words!
This is a very good list and I think you’re smart in wanting to take time to adjust your body/training to avoid injury! I think you’ll know when you’re ready to take on a marathon because there will that ‘spark’ or purpose within you that pushes you to sign up for that first 26.2 race. 🙂
That makes sense. Same as it was for me with the first 10K and first half, just kind of felt it. maybe I will know when to do a full.
I ran a 5K – 10k most days for about 7 months before I got the idea to Half. A friend jumped on board with the idea and at 1 year mark we ran Miami in February. It was very anticlimactic at the finish line. I didn’t need the medal and felt a little silly. But when I got home to NY, a virtual polar vortex, I was glowing with joy from the entire experience. I ran my own race and saw a beautiful course. I was both challenged and overcome with strength and peace. I believe timing is everything in this regard. For me it was a necessary and encouraging experience of growth. B
I agree that it’s something we do for ourselves. The medals mean nothing to me. The shirts I like just because they are useful. I like the feeling of accomplishment I get from racing, as well as sharing a race with so many other people.
I’m scared of the marathon distance too! I said 2014 will be the year I become a marathoner but I think 2014 will be the year I sign up for a marathon and 2015 is when I will actually become a marathoner (hopefully)
you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. Just relax and enjoy it. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, but you need to understand that it is not that bad. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? You quit? So what!
Quite a few of us hoping 2015 will be ‘the’ year! Hope we all make it happen.
I will admit, after four half marathons, the thought has crossed my mind, especially as training has been going really well the past four months. But when I think about running *that* far, and having seen what some people look like when they’re done, I’m terrified. I know I would want to not just do it, but do it well. And I’m terrified I wouldn’t be successful. But it’s still hanging around the back of my mind.
LOL, I never thought of that, I should never go spectate a marathon, that could be a scary sight. 🙂
These are well thought out reasons to put The Big One on hold this year – 26.2 miles demand respect and can’t be tackled lightly.
My first marathon was entered just to do it, to have the experience, but even though it was hard and it hurt, I knew even before I had finished that I wanted to do it again. To date I have run 4, but opted out last year as I had been having niggling injuries and I wanted to address this and rebuild my running. I am definitely stronger now and running better than ever. Marathon number 5 is now less than six weeks away!
If and when you decide to go for it, I’m sure you will train sensibly, achieve your goal(s) and, most importantly, enjoy it.
That’s so smart of you, to stop when you had to, and come back feeling better and stronger.
Haha, great reasons and good for you for realizing not to just do it, but to do it with thought. I would say though, that training WILL make you a better runner, because you’re running and you’re running a lot. Personally, I’ve PR’d in every distance when I am training… I bet, when you do decide, you’ll love it 🙂
Thank you, that’s very encouraging.
I’m right along with everyone else, I’m totally not ready to even think about doing a marathon. Maybe in five years or so!
I know what you mean! I felt exactly like you, even about a half marathon. It seemed crazy. It’s incredible how sometimes something that seems so daunting becomes manageable. But only with the right training and really wanting to do it, not because we have to.
Great post – you sum it all up so well 🙂 Paul and I have decided not to attempt a marathon this year for much the same reasons as you but to have it as a goal for 2015 – again for the same reasons as you hehe. I really enjoyed and felt hearted by reading your post – thank you 🙂
Thank you! It’s always so nice to read someone feels similar to me about something I wrote.
Everything you said makes perfect sense – and that is what is important, that it is the right thing for YOU!
I ran my first marathon at 46 … heck I ran my first 5K at 46, even though I had started running at 23. The marathon distance is definitely challenging for your body … and it isn’t for everyone, nor are you ‘less of a runner’ if you don’t ever do one.
Is that because you had no interest in racing before that? Were you running regularly, similar mileage than now for all those years (since age 23 I mean)?
I was running most weekdays, but definitely much less and slower than now. It was purely a fitness (i.e. weight) thing, and frankly I was embarrassed to be seen due to weight and fitness issues from childhood. I did a whole series on my ‘running story’ – and really just getting out for my first 5K was a huge victory over the ‘childhood demons’ (http://txa1265.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/my-running-story-the-corning-years-through-today/)
I’ve read your story post before actually, loved it. Thanks for the link.
I think these are all really great reasons to not run a marathon this year because it is a lot of commitment and prep, but with the right training and mindset you can definitely rock it!! 😉 I know you can do it!!
I’m excited about ONE day running a full marathon, I’m just not emotionally ready to get physically ready lol I’m enjoying my half marathons and 10ks
I totally get what you are saying! I’m right there with you.
These are such great points. I’m also scared shitless of the distance. I (probably foolishly) signed up for my full marathon on June 2, but luckily the half marathon is about the same price and is looking like a really attractive option at this point, considering it’s only three months away.
That’s a good thing that you have the option to switch. You still have enough time to train, if you are already running at a solid base. But you should definitely consider your options and see what makes more sense for you.
Marathons are not to be taken lightly! They’re a huge endeavor, and you should only train and run for one if your heart is in it.
Yes, I agree. And I’m a planner so I feel the need to do it the right way.
I’m the same way!
I’m the opposite, I ran my first marathon with 3 weeks of training. Mind you I had a solid running background, but I had never gone over 16K prior to the 3 weeks of training for the marathon. Sometimes you just have to get in there and do it.
That’s impressive! I could pull it off like that, but I enjoy planning and slowly building things too much to give up on that.
Great post and great perspective! I ran my first marathon last month, largely because (as you alluded to) I saw it as “the next step”. I had run a bunch of half marathons and had a pretty solid base of running under me, and it seemed like all those around me were running either fulls or ultras. So I figured, why not? Looking back, I definitely was not fully prepared–I covered the distance but not in the manner nor the time that I had wanted to. I’m planning on doing another one in the future, though not rushing towards it and looking instead to build up much more of a distance base beforehand.
I can definitely understand what happened to you, I almost did that myself, kind of rush into it to make it to this year’s marathons. Then I figured it made no sense, as much as I wanted to run one already, better do it right.
I’m intimidated as heck about the 26.2 miles. Which is why my first marathon is a training run — a dress rehearsal of sorts for the one I’m running in May. My training plan started awhile ago with base building and we’re in the “pre-marathon training phase” now. It is a huge commitment. I’m hoping to qualify for Boston and I’d love to do the NYC Marathon, but after these, I want to focus on half marathon and 10ks.
I definitely don’t get people wanting to just bucket list a marathon, but to each their own. For me, I want to see what this 44 year old body can do. I love running, and honestly, I kind of love training even more than the races. Having a goal to aim towards helps me.
I was just thinking that the other day, about having a goal. I run because I like it, I’ve run without having a race in the horizon, but now that I do have races in my schedule, I realize they are a motivator.
I have run numerous marathons. My first one was because “I want to conquer the challenge”…then it became “I want to qualify and run Boston”…then it became “I have friends doing it, so I might as well join them”…then it became “it is part of the IRONMAN race and I will finish.” I guess I’ve had lots of reasons over the years for why I have run so many marathons. When the time is right, you’ll know. The marathons will always be there, so take your time getting to the start line and do what is best for you and your household to get there 😉
It’s really inspiring for me to read this message, all the marathons you’ve done, Ironman, so impressive! Just knowing that it’s doable and that people just like me are running marathons and so much more.
I did one last year. Sadly it was the best I could do even if it was 7 hours til I made it to the end. It’ll be a while before I attempt another. The breathing issues need to be fixed and I need to train more once it is fixed before I consider it. But bragging rights are awesome and I’m glad I was able to do at least one. 🙂
That must have been so tough, 7 hours and with breathing issues… but then the accomplishment and bragging rights stay forever. 🙂
Running a full marathon is definitely on my goals list. I am going to give myself a year to train for it.
I’m with you, hopefully the marathons going on about now, I’ll be able to run next year, so one full year to get ready.
I understand your reasoning. Like scheduling and allowing yourself enough time to build a solid base, etc. But I’ll take PRs wherever I can get them. My first marathon is going to be a learning experience because regardless of how much I train, I’ll never be prepared for how it FEELS to run 26.2. So I want to run a good time and feel strong but the most impt thing is to do it. And then I can adjust based on my experience, to do it better the next time. That’s why I am running my first marathon this year and hopefully a better one next year.
You are right about that, the sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll be able to learn and improve it next time.