Running with Slowpokes

The other day Marathon Girl and I were discussing and article that appeared in Slate about how the popularity of marathons has ruined them. According to the author:

Today, the great majority of marathon runners set out simply to finish. That sets the bar so low that everyone comes out a winner. Big-city marathons these days feel more like circuses than races, with runners of variable skill levels—some outfitted in wacky costumes—crawling toward the finish line….When a newbie marathoner crosses the finish line, he's less likely to check his time than to shout, "Only 33 more things to do before I die!”

In many ways, the slow marathon is the perfect event for the American athletic sensibility. Just finishing a marathon is akin to joining a gym and then putzing around on the stationary bike. We feel good about creating the appearance of accomplishment, yet aren't willing to sacrifice for true gains. It's clear now that anyone can finish a marathon. Maybe it's time we raise our standards to see who can run one.

Though I don’t agree the popularity of marathons is a bad thing or necessarily ruined them, I do agree that there are a lot of people that basically walk the 26.2 miles instead of running them because they don’t put the proper time and effort into training for them.

Preparing for a marathon is time consuming and hard work. Marathon Girl puts a lot of effort into training and preparing for races. (Official tally: Marathon Girl has run eight marathons and won two.) One of Marathon Girl’s biggest pet peeves is going to marathons and meeting other “runners” who claim to have “run” multiple marathons only to find out all their marathon times are well over five hours.

That being said, Marathon Girl does think that your goal should be to finish your first marathon. No matter how hard you’ve trained, nothing can really prepare you for the grueling task of running (not walking) 26.2 miles. (I’ll testify to that.)

The article did, however, make Marathon Girl excited for 2007. She has several marathons she’d like to run (one marathon we’re planning on running together) and I’m looking forward to seeing her put all of her energy into it. And if all goes well, the Boston Marathon will be on Marathon Girl’s calendar in 2008.