Let’s Stop Running the Marathon

By Stephen Kersh

July 12, 2017


Let’s solve a problem. Well, maybe this isn’t a problem, but it is a grandiose hoax. Problems tend to be more severe. Problems range in their severity from toe fungus to increasing, and aggressive North Korean overtures so, in the grand scheme of things, what I’m coming at you with is more of an opportunity to be freed from a scam.

The Internet has conditioned us to believe we should all be running marathons. The truth is, we should not. Marathons are a long, arduous task that normal citizens should not partake in. Normal in the sense you’re not being paid any amount of money to run. Normal in the sense you do not go to bed at 9:00 PM every night. Normal in the sense you are not asked to do something potentially harmful to your body once or twice a day. Normal in the sense you have outside interests.

“That’s elitism!” you might say.

“Hell yeah it’s elitism” I say right back.

Racing a marathon is an incredibly difficult task and it is something only those who have properly trained for should attempt. Because, if you show up to race after months of what is probably not enough training, you will face some very grave consequences. The most important thing to remember is that the man of initial marathon fame died shortly after his run. He DIED. He didn’t chafe to death. He wasn’t forced to blood-let some blisters. He DIED from EXERTION. Real recognize real.

I understand all the sentiment and nostalgia associated with marathoning. It’s a seemingly impossible distance to cover by foot in a day, let alone in a few hours while running and once it is accomplished, only the fuzziest of feelings await. It is very much within human nature to take on the impossible, put in an incredible amount of work and then realize it is, after all, possible. That shit is beautiful. I cry when I hear stories about people preserving through a sub-par situation and realizing their personal greatness

ASIDE: I read some story the other day about a kid who spent his whole childhood playing the violin, going to violin camp, and doing all the violin things, but then he took a few years off of the violin. Well, turns out the violin still scratch his itch and he got accepted into some prestigious musical conservatory. He said he “overcame great odds” to be accepted but, in reality, he did not. He spent his whole life adjusting the odds in his favor. Every note he perfected, his odds went up. I was flabbergasted and crying. It was beautiful. It was disgusting. It was life.

The following facts are not facts; they are mere opinions. Please do keep that in mind before you log-in to the nearest computer and berate me on the Internet. Let’s go over some stuff I’ve thought about.

  1. Normal citizens run marathons because they want to feel accomplished and maybe even more important, they want a relatable accomplishment. If you tell someone you ran a marathon, you will automatically be greeted with astonishment and praise. If you tell someone you climbed the Fitzroy Traverse, you will be met with confusion and perhaps a “God Bless You!”
  2. Running, and marathoning, had its heydey in the 70’s. In the days of free love and recreational drug use, normal humans were more healthy and happy. People weren’t spending their waking hours in front of their computer screens; people were having sex and experimenting with drugs. I’m not sure why this leads me to believe they were more healthy, but it does. I give these people the pass on my hardline stance against normals running marathons because their normal was not our current normal. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?
  3. There is a difference between “running” and “racing.” The former can be done without paying a fistful of dollars on race entry and travel expense. It can be done wherever and whenever you choose, it can be done with friends on a course of your choosing. The latter connotes speed and many weeks of specific training. I do not think most people race the marathon. Preparing a body to be in the kind of shape necessary to race a marathon is not something normal people should do.
  4. Racing a 5K, a 10K, or even a mile can provide the same feeling of accomplishment as racing a marathon without trashing your body and as we learned earlier, your life. Since it is nearly impossible to race a marathon as a normal human, a collective shift in focus is needed. Let’s agree to run a distance where you have greater opportunity to fun fast and less of an opportunity to die.
  5. Last one. I’m not discounting the sacrifice needed to be an elite shorter-distance-runner. I’m trying to mitigate the desire for a normal human to run an obscenely long race when they could be having more fun training and racing shorter distances. Preparing for shorter distances introduces speed and athleticism into training that is otherwise untouched in a marathon buildup. Being fast and athletic looks really fun to me and it should look fun to you too.

There are plenty of other reasons not run a marathon. But they mostly start and end at bowel movements. All in all, the marathon is terrible and perfect and I love it, but there are plenty of other ways to impress your co-workers.

Stephen Kersh

Former collegiate runner for University of Portland and Georgetown, currently a professional runner weighing sponsorship offers from no one. Enjoys using the internet to message Scott Olberding and Paul Snyder about bad story ideas. Does not assume he will work at Citius much longer due to the bad story ideas. He once gave a TED Talk titled "Twitter: How We Are All Just Shouting into a Vacuum" to his best friend and his girlfriend on the beaches of Connecticut.