Runners and general ‘keep fit’ types will often talk to me about marathon running. They fall into four general categories:
- People who have gone through the full marathon experience themselves and can relate.
These are the people who rarely ask about times/performance etc but often simply empathise with the experience and engage in a discussion about the commitment, the constant training, the 20mile runs in all types of weather – before work/after work etc; the lack of social life; burden on family life and then the fact that the marathon itself is bloody hard… there is simply no getting away from that fact.
2. People who haven’t done it and are really impressed and congratulatory.
These people might ask race times, but quite frankly no matter what your response is they will exude enthusiasm and come off with things like “that’s an amazing feat”; “such an achievement” etc. Many of these people say “I could never do that” – they probably can, but they recognise the commitment and staying power required in the 6-9 months before the event. I like these people as much as those in the first point…
3. People who have never done a marathon but know someone else who has done a better time than you:
“oh, Julian so you did it in 3:53…[pause…a wry look]…my friend did it in 3:35, but he’s really fit…” Ok, so what you’re telling me is that my achievement is pretty crap because you know someone else who did it quicker…clear off and stop wasting my time until you know what you’re talking about…Although my standard response is “[smiling politely] oh, that’s very good…why don’t you do one [yes, the double entendre here is intentional]?”
4. And finally, aaaaaaaaghhhhhhhh…the most exasperating of all…people who have never done a marathon, but do a wee bit of training and have decided they would have been great “once upon a time”…”I’ve always wanted to do a marathon…I’m not being funny, er no offence, but if I did one [sic] a few years ago I would’ve done it in like 3 hours or thereabouts…” aaaaghhhh, I feel like punching these people – they’re telling me that they’re a 3 hour marathon runner without having ever done anything close to the 26 miles…Again, by extension, they are telling me that my sub 4 hour performance is totally crap compared to their virtual marathon!!! Instead of extending my right arm with clenched fist I revert to standard form “[smiling politely] Why don’t you do one mate?”
Seriously, I know I am not Haile Gabresaillesse, but unless you’ve got off your arse and put the miles in, spent the hours, lost the sweat, suffered the chafing, ran through the pain of blisters, had a hot shower while your nipples have bled so much they are pure raw, had your toe-nails fall out and still go out on a 20 mile run in the pouring rain the following day… then my advice is simple “do one mate!”
…glad to get that off my chest – normal, pleasant posts, will be resumed shortly 🙂
- Emily Faherty: Running Is My Boyfriend: Countdown to the New York City Marathon (huffingtonpost.com)
- Blind marathon runner on 1,000 mile challenge (bbc.co.uk)
- Hungover Runner: The Marathon Blog (marieclaire.com)
- Keepin on keepin on… (runjunky.wordpress.com)