Monday, August 28

Marathon disease.. and those 'less athletic' runners

Ahmee posted some great comments about my rant on the marathon 'disease' (click on the comments button at the end of 'A nice cup of tea' section below to see her full post). She took me to task for being too hard on "less athletic" runners.

"I think that you just don't "get it" about why less athletic runners enjoy running, and not racing, for 26.2 miles. Masochism for its own sake is only part of enjoyment. Planning to run a marathon in five hours provides a sense of adventure, a domain where I can push my own humble limits, and a goal race that allows for many months of sociable training, plus an incentive to stay fit, strength train, eat right, and obsess about something not too disturbing", she said.

Maybe I wasn't as clear as a I should be. My "irritation", if we can call it that, is with people who think that being able to run 26.2 miles is special. So special, that if they do it they deserve a medal. Not to mention a t-shirt, a commemorative glass, a bag of freebies and a post-"race" celebration. Running 26.2 miles isn't special. Any more than walking it is. It's what our legs are there for.

Anyone planning to finish it in five hours, to match their friend's pace, to beat a PR -- and I don't care how slow it is -- them I can respect.

I do apologise if the tone of my post was that I think "less athletic" runners are a waste of road space. I didn't mean that at all. What is a "less athletic" runner, anyway? In my book it's someone who has not got the time or the inclincation to do enough training; that's all.

That reference made me laugh out loud. When I first turned up at a Bobby McGee drills session with a 27-minute 5k and a 48-minute 10k to show for myself, I certainly rated as a "less athletic", mid-pack runner. One year on, having improved those times by 10 and 11 minutes respectively through a year of hard, hard training, suddenly I am, what? "More athletic", I guess! I've even had thrown at me the priceless, no-brain comment, "It's easy for you, you've got talent!" That one had my coach Gabino Toledo almost on the floor with laughter. He was the only one with me when we trained in the dark at Centennial, heaving around bags of sand until my back went out; he was often the only one running with me in the snow and ice on those winter mornings, when the "less athletic" were tucked up warm and cosy in bed. Ha!

Ahmee also makes a great point about suffering and masochism, which I'll get to in the next post.

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