does marathoning a runner make?

This post on Laura’s blog sorta brought up a topic that I know has been discussed to death on this blog, but felt like I had to bring it up again…

Seems like lately in the blogosphere, there are people who don’t define themselves as runners until they have done a marathon, or run a certain amount of miles in a training run.

As you all know, I strongly disagree with that-and I do believe in the whole “running is not marathoning” thing (thanks jbl!) Hell, I defined myself as a runner long before I even toed the line of my first half-marathon. While it was an eventual goal to run a marathon, I had plenty of time to get there and you know what? Racing shorter distances is actually fun! It doesn’t always have to be about the 26.2, though I do respect those who do prefer that.

But outside the blogosphere…I too, have seen the bias towards longer distances. The weekend I did Broad Street, was also the weekend of the Brooklyn Half and several other marathons. You can guess which runners got the most kudos and congrats-yep, the marathoners, followed by the half-marathon runners. Never mind that I ran probably my best race ever to date, still felt like pulling teeth to get any congrats. Not that I was actively seeking them out. But why is it that I have to remind people that racing and personal achievement happens at all distances, long and short-and deserves to be noticed? And an explanation I was given was that “the marathon is the ultimate distance that people achieve to run, that deserves congrats.” Does that mean that those who want to focus on shorter races are considered “slackers” or “wusses” and don’t deserve the kudos? Would I have gotten more recognition for running a mediocre half-marathon instead of a kick-ass 10-miler, just because it was 3.1 miles longer and had the word “marathon” in it?

As one of the Flyer captains, I do try as hard as possible to be sensitive to that…yep, there are times that when I email my team, I am forced to mention certain marathon-related announcements. But I really try to make notice that I am paying attention to our team’s achievements in other distances (e.g., the mile, 5K, cross-country races) Or I’ll tell them so in person. I really don’t want those who focus on shorter distances to feel like their achievements go unnoticed and just “buried” in all the marathon mania.

So where am I going with this? Well-as someone who will be running her 2nd marathon this year-I will say, I do respect the distance, I respect the time and energy needed to train for it, I respect those who finish, I respect those who’s favorite distance is the marathon and like to run them frequently. But guys-please respect the shorter distances too. Just because runners like em short and hard (the mileage and effort…what were you thinking? :-p )-that does not make them slackers or wusses-or “non-runners.”

Those are my thoughts on the topic-flame away!! 🙂


11 thoughts on “does marathoning a runner make?

  1. Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been more compelled to post a comment before – nice work! I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that you’re not a runner until you’ve completed a marathon. In fact – and not taking anything away from the people who train properly and compete in marathons – I think the marathon is more of a “life list” thing for a lot of people and draws a whole heck of a lot of non-runners to the starting line. How many people run a marathon just to check it off of the list and then never train for another race again? I think you’re a runner the moment your training has a purpose. You’re a runner if you enjoy running. You’re a runner if you consider yourself a runner. I don’t race marathons because I find shorter, faster-paced races to be more exhilarating for me personally. Marathon just really doesn’t interest me – though I appreciate it as a part of my sport. That said, I find it aggravating sometimes when people think the marathon is the holy grail of running. For example, I was telling a colleague a while back about an indoor track meet where I broke 5-min. for the mile. The response? “You’re totally going to run the marathon!” Really? How is there a connection? There is none.Anyway, I think labeling someone a runner or non-runner based on the distance they race is silly. All athletic pursuits have merit and if you excel at a particular distance or you have an interest in becoming better at a certain distance, then that’s a worthy goal that shouldn’t be diminished.

  2. I think if you’re not walking, you’re a runner.

  3. In two weeks what marathon training program will you be starting if you are using some predefined plan?

  4. Hey! A couple of points…first, for the record, I was one of the first to give you kudos for your Broad Street Run…so no need to pull my teeth!Second, I think Laura’s point was that she didn’t feel lika a runner even though she ran 27+ miles…but that doesn’t mean she or anyone feels like if you didn’t run so many miles, you’re not a runner…or vice versa.Third, your point about more kudos for marathoners is intriguing…I have a few ideas why that is, but I’ll reserve that for my next post (to work on why I’m on my flight back to NY)…As for me, I worked very hard in the beginning of the year to train for speed (in order to break 40:00 for the 10K…which was a goal of mine) so I know it’s just as hard to do that as it is to train for a marathon. I agree that the recognition isn’t the same though. I don’t know, I like racing short because I think I’m a little better than average in the little distances while I’m just an average marathoner at best, although I try to be versatile and train for both at different times throughout the year.Very thought provoking post.

  5. lots to address!!scarinzic-i agree wholeheartedly with this: “I think you’re a runner the moment your training has a purpose. You’re a runner if you enjoy running.” It’s funny that this topic is coming up now, with the Corporate Challenge in town-as 5 years ago, that was the event that really inspired me to get off the treadmill and hit the roads-I think that was the point where I started looking at running as not just a supplement to something at the gym-but something I enjoyed doing. And I know from reading your blog that you really enjoy your short races-and honestly, more power to you!! I personally have a hard time giving it my all in such a short distance…I did the 5th Ave mile once to get a mile time on the books, but I don’t think I’d do it again-I was happy with the time, but didn’t enjoy the effort required.tiny frog-good point!!barry-keep an eye on the NYF site…i’m utilizing one of the programs offered, but with quite a bit of editing…so I guess whatever I wind up with will be sorta home-brewed :)laminator-oh believe me, that was definitely not aimed at you…no teeth-yanking for you necessary!! 🙂 I think my post was more in response to some of the comments than the post itself. As for you and the marathon distance, I’m sure you haven’t even tapped your full potential yet…and you will 🙂 (and what the heck are you talking about, average…modest, arent we? 🙂 ) I do think you have the right idea about training…I have heard things like “you can’t really train for the marathon and the 10K at the same time”…I did find when marathon training, I didn’t have the legs to race to my full potential in short races. Hence-different season, different distance.

  6. Don’t know if you read through all the comments (or even if I ever made it clear that I solved the mystery), but basically, I realized I don’t feel like a runner because… I don’t run often. I read everyone’s blogs, and you all talk about running daily or every other day and training and etc. I don’t set training plans, I don’t do specific types of workouts (fartleks, long slow, speed, etc), and I only typically run once a week – by some miracle, that was enough to get me to finish the marathon.It just kind of makes me feel like not a runner because even though I do a lot of races and I do a lot of miles, it’s not a part of my every day life (well, searching for new races to do is, but training for them is not).I really want to try to fix that.

  7. You do what you can based on your schedule-there is nothing wrong with that!!It did take me awhile before I realized how to really train smart…but I was still a runner during that learning period 🙂

  8. I think the problem is that a lot of folks get frustrated with the shorter races because their times aren’t improving so they push to go longer and longer. The irony is that at some point, they are no longer enjoying themselves, but mearly surviving. I just tell them to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy running at any distance. It’s all good.

  9. Running a marathon is hard work.Doing mile repeats is hard work.Running a PR at any distance is a great achievement.I think you become a runner when you commit to the lifestyle. When you commit to a training program. When you begin to make changes to your life for your sport.I also agree with Arizona Phil. Many choose to go longer because doing the work to get fast requires a lot of hard work.

  10. you both have a point there (going longer is easier than going fast)…but what happens when they want to try and achieve both? 🙂 (BQ? OTQ? or just shaving minutes or seconds off their time?) It’s just as hard work to train for endurance than to train for speed…at least that was my experience. Maybe things will be different this time around though…

  11. I really appreciate this post. I am a runner… but I have zero desire to run a marathon. I love the half distance and I love participating in 5ks, 10ks, 10 milers, etc. I love to run and I do it nearly everyday. But, I feel sort of like I’ll never be considered a “real” runner until I brave at least 26.2… even though I get so much satisfaction from shorter distance. I just keep reminding myself that this is for me. I am not out to prove anything to anyone… other than me.

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