6 Reasons you Shouldn’t Run a Marathon
By now, you’re either training for the Twin Cities Marathon or one of Minnesota’s many fall half marathons, or the plethora of other marathons around the country. You may also be sick of hearing your friends talk about their marathon training plans. The marathon is often viewed as the holy grail of running, so it’s easy to forget that there’s plenty of other races that aren’t 26.2 miles.
I remember sitting on the curb at mile 25 of the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon cheering on friends and strangers, and finding myself oddly jealous of the pain runners were enduring. I decided that I wanted to be one of them in 2013. The timing would be perfect — I’d hang up my track spikes and graduate from Hamline University in the spring, then jump right into a summer full of long runs to prepare for Twin Cities. Life has a funny way of spoiling plans though. I had ankle surgery, moved to Rochester, and had a brief stint of being retired from training and racing.
I did finally join the marathoner club this spring, but not before hearing, “Wait, you’ve never run a marathon?!” more times than I can count. There are plenty of valid reasons not to take on a longer race, but here are six reasons you shouldn’t run a marathon:
1. You haven’t done these five things.
Just like college courses have prerequisites, there’s a list of suggested to-do items before taking on the marathon. Train for and run a half marathon, assemble your running wardrobe, set goals, find a good training plan, and map out your training first, and you’ll be off and running for marathon training.
2. You can’t devote the time to training.
Even with the proliferation of “Run less, run faster” training plans, preparing for a marathon still requires a lot time. You need to carve out time for 20 mile long runs, strength training sessions, tempo runs, etc. And if accomplishing these things would mean seriously shortchanging sleep, it might be time to reevaluate whether running a marathon is realistic. Even a master at time management can’t magically create 25 hours in a day!
3. You’re coming back from a significant injury (or pregnancy).
After a months-long layoff, you’ve finally gotten the all clear to run again. What do you do next? Sign up for a marathon, of course! It can be tempting, but listen to your body, be realistic about your limitations, and if you are battling an injury, recognize when it may be time to throw in the towel on your marathon plans.
4. You want to pursue a lot of different kinds of activities.
Marathon training likely won’t leave a lot of extra time (or energy) for other athletic pursuits. So if your goals include running every trail race you hear about, competing in a few triathlons, and biking a Century, it’s time to prioritize your goals. That said, biking, swimming, yoga, etc. are marvelous cross training activities.
5. Your main goal is to lose weight.
A lot of beginning runners are bummed out when the number on the scale isn’t tumbling, even though they’re training for a marathon. There are a lot of reasons why that can happen, from gaining muscle mass to overcompensating calories. However, training for a marathon is a great stepping stone for becoming a stronger, healthier runner!
6. You just plain don’t enjoy running 26.2 miles.
Or event 13.1! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to concentrate on shorter race distances (or not race at all), even if all the cool kids are running a marathon. Going after a PR in 10k or half marathon, for instance, can require just as much training and dedication!
Do you have advice for when not to run a marathon? Share it in the comments below!