I hosted today’s RunnersRoundTable and a lively discussion it was. My goal was to impress upon people that one needn’t race a marathon to be a runner. I think that got across. Listen.

I began with the following premise. There are four things a runner can:

  1. Run an ultra
  2. Race a marathon
  3. Run a marathon
  4. Race shorter

I further posited that to “race” a marathon one must dedicate a certain amount of time and effort, and especially one must put in a lot of miles. In my view, we’re talking one or two a year. I’ve made the distinction before.

Not to belabor the point, we had a nice mix of folks, all with marathon experience, two having done Boston and the other two having done marathons this past week-end. Give it a listen.

The bottom line: we did a good job of setting out what is required to race a marathon. It’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of effort. I need add that much effort, indeed harder effort, is required to race shorter stuff, HMs on down, but while one can race well without the high mileage required for a marathon — although as my teammates Paul T and Robert R will attest high mileage is quite useful for the shorter stuff (and both got anonymous mentions in the show) — mileage is the starting point for a marathon. It’s why for New York, less than six months away (171 days and some odd hours and minutes according to NYRR’s site), November 7 must be in the back of my mind. In that sense it’s a win-win for now, since it is a great motivating factor and way too early to worry about doing 20 milers. Whatever I’m going to do in the fall requires getting a solid base over the summer.

Did I learn anything from the show? Well, I did. Both Matt and Colin had issues late in their races, and I was reminded about my own late issues in my last marathon. As I said on the show, the second thing I thought of after that race — the first being “I’m never doing that again” — was how I could do things differently the next time. The “next time” has yet to come, and I fear that my overall slowing down means I’m not capable of going faster than last time, doing everything right. I still have unfinished business, though. That’s what I learned, was reminded of.

Here in mid-May, I needn’t decide. While I started the show 50-50, I’m probably now 60-40 for. Tomorrow? Who knows? I still hate 20 milers (although maybe Herb’s right and that it’s a state of mind I have to get over).

[Edited to add: This from a piece in today’s Running Times on former WSSACer Khalid Khounnouchi:

“Running a sub-27:00 10K isn’t going to happen for me now. When it comes to shorter races, I’ve lost a lot of speed, so I don’t want to deal with that—you assume more risk because running just for speed can get you injured,” Khannouchi reveals. “But, it is very simple to train for a marathon. You can take your time and train for one or two races a year and you can master the distance.”]

And here’s Kevin Kline in a slightly more, er, literate role: