Why is it that some runners feel the need to run marathons? What's wrong with shorter races like 5k and 10k's? Every year I see videos of exhausted, dehydrated and weakened marathoners crossing the finish line in Boston and I have to wonder, "Why do they do this to themselves?". Can such torture be considered fun? - Short Distance Runner
This April I'll be lining up with about 15,000 runners in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to run the next "Boston Marathon". I'll coast through Ashland, Framingham, and Wellesley until I get to the Newton Hills, at which point my body will begin to suffer past the point of comfort. If you see me out there, in my personal struggle with increased altitude, you'll observe the personification of man versus himself.
I won't be alone in this endeavor. Many of the fifteen thousands will feel the same deep inner anguish of those hills in a prolonged effort to finish just one more mile of the 26.2.
As we work our way up Heartbreak Hill, many of us will be asking some of your same questions "Why do we do this to ourselves?". "Is this fun?"
The answer is far too complex to lay out here in any acceptable form that will appease the curious, but I'll try to speak for my fellow marathoners in a way that might shed the light of respect on our alleged lunacy.
Distance runners do not enjoy the pain. If they did, you might find them incorporating training sessions at brickyards, hurling large heavy "brickoids" at each other's heads. "Did that hurt enough?" one might say to the other. "Duh, nah, I tink yahs gots ta use a bigga brick" the respondent might slurringly retort. Next would come the hot coals, bed of nails, snake pits and boiling oil portion of our training. Is torture something marathoners consider to be fun? Not at all.
Twentysix point two miles is a long way to race (never mind run) by any standard. The marathoners of this world accept the challenge for many reasons, the most important of which is because of the challenge. Tell a distance runner that they can't shave five minutes off their marathon personal record, and you'll set into motion about four months of intense training in an extreme effort to do just that.
Dehydration, muscle cramps, blurred vision, chronic pain... these are just some of the trade offs for the glory and personal satisfaction for having run a marathon.
Many of us are past the point of "bragging" about our marathon finishes. Few will care that the "Boston Marathon" will be my third 26.2 mile race, but when you look at my wasted, suffering body cross that finish line in downtown Boston know that (at least on the inside) I'll be smiling... as we all will. We are marathoners because we love the challenge. We run marathons because we can.
We don't enjoy the suffering, we merely accept it.