As I sit here, I am decidedly undecided about whether to run New York. Which hasn’t stopped me from suggesting a RunnersRoundTable show on Reasons Not To Run A Marathon. It’ll be on May 19. Feel free to head into the chat room.

It’s a continuation of the debate I had on January 1, which in turn followed up on Flo’s similar thoughts. My premise is that the point is to race a marathon and that requires lots of work. (To get off of my high-horse for a moment, this is not to say I wouldn’t run NY if I don’t race it. I likely would. It is to say that it wouldn’t be the focus of my fall training.)

TK recently commented on a celebrity chef (I don’t know about the “hottie” part) doing the LA Marathon on eight day’s training. “Why he and everyone else is acting like it’s such a great and amazing thing is beyond me. What a terrible example he’s setting for people; folks who don’t know any better could get seriously injured! And, notice the braces he’s wearing on his knees, and his finishing time [5:19:03]. Pbblt.”

If there’s one point I want to get across on the RunnersRoundTable it’s the unhealthy obsession that I sense about the marathon (or, I imagine, the Ironman (as opposed to halfs and Olympic-distance) for triathletes).

Having recently run with Robert and with Herb, I have a suspicion that some of this is how we’re wired. They will go and go and go. Someone like me, or Flo, won’t. We dread, we bitch, we moan. We look forward to running becoming fun again after months of tired legs.

Ah. Decisions, decisions.


Edited to add: I wanted to respond to some of C’s points. Those who’ve been with me for a while will recall that the whole race vs. run thing arose when someone wondered whether his quality over quantity approach was the right one for running Boston and I made it clear that I thought not. Sure, one could do a marathon, and be heaped with praise for the effort, but to me that somewhat defeated the purpose. Although he took my comments badly, he eventually came somewhat around to recognizing — and this is hardly anything new — that one did in fact need a minimum amount of mileage to properly do a marathon.

As for me taking a spot, if someone wanted to race NY when I was just going to run it, I’d give her my number. But I can’t. If I don’t race-but-run, it’ll be because I paid my money and figure I might as well take advantage of it. Also, I don’t think someone who gets in on time takes a spot. When I worked with the marathon in the late 70s/early 80s, the capacity limit for the race was not the sub-3 crowd but the over-3:30 crowd. Capacity problems are reached when you have too many people in a single space at the same time, on the course and at the finish line. And I had to make the enter/don’t-enter call in March so if I did take a spot, it was back then.

As to the chef, yes he has, per the article run faster. TK’s point, and mine, is that it is promoted as eight-days-to-a-marathon. Note the comments to that article.

If there is anything I am trying to do with the RRT program it’s to assure people that they don’t have to run a marathon to be a run. Yeah, you have to do an Ironman to be an “Ironman.” If people want to do marathons and Ironmans, let them. That’s not my point. One thing I will bring up is that most of the faster club runners I know, particularly those who’ve been at it for a long time, may or may not do marathons regularly. Perhaps us old-timers have an advantage of coming into the sport when marathons were another race, a race that had to be respected, but not a race that had to be done.

Finally, I don’t think it fair to perpetuate the notion that I evaluate runners by speed. I realize it was all of two weeks (15 days actually) since I praised someone for running a 3:48 marathon, but it is something I’ve become aware of in the blogosphere.

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