- Sense of accomplishment & pride - running 26.2 miles is something to be VERY proud of. Not everyone can do it and it takes alot of dedication and effort.
- Motivation - There's a lot that goes into doing a marathon. Months of training, time, expense. It's not something you walk away from easily. Therefore, you're likely to stay very motivated towards your goal for quite a time.
- Plan to follow - Not that I love following a plan, because I really do not. But I do find having a goal to work towards keeps me motivated and dedicated. I don't tend to flounder when I'm working towards achieving something. And I'm less likely to get lazy and skip workouts when I know I'm building up to a goal.
- Member of "The Club" - Yes, then there is that little thing. Not so much as bragging rights, but just to be able to say/know I've done it. For me it's more about KNOWING I've done it than SAYING I've done it.
- Time - There is a TON of time required to train for a marathon. It can not be taken lightly. Weekend runs can easily consume 4-5 hours or more of your day. Longer if you like to drive to other locations for a change of scenery. Plus there are the runs during the week. You can't just skip those and go all willy-nilly. Regular, organized training is required.
- Expense - Entry fees alone are high for marathons. At least double, or more, than a typical 10K. If you don't live within reasonable distance of one, or have the desire to do a destination location, then you could incur substantial travel costs as well.
- Injury - Risk of injury is pretty high, at some point or another. You are pushing your body to a pretty high extreme and must be very careful, and even then you could get injured.
- Lack of Weight Loss - It's true. While you may be burning a bazillion calories doing all that running, you will be hard pressed to lose any weight if that is your objective. Your body simply needs more energy. Reducing calories while training for hours on end just leaves you completely fatigued and slow to repair. I read it before and thought it must be impossible to run that kind of mileage and not lose weight (or gain), but yet somehow it is QUITE possible.
- All Consuming - It's on your mind ... alot. What & when you eat/drink. Amount of sleep. Cross training. Adequate fluids. Proper Nutrition. If you have a 20+ mile run on Sunday, chances are you are not going out drinking and eating junk food Saturday night.
- "What Now??" - The let down afterwards can be pretty tough. Maybe let down is wrong, but many people get left with a feeling of wondering what they're going to do next. You've just accomplished an amazing feat and it's easy to get lost in trying to figure out your next direction.
That said ... the cons are pretty strong for me and are currently weighing in a little on the heavier side. While I am very proud of myself for doing these longer distances (current PR 22 miles), I don't get a real kick out of doing them. I think I'm happiest running between 6 and 16 miles. The training takes a huge chunk of time. 10Ks and half marathons fit well into what I like to run and don't take alot of extra effort or time above my normal running to train for. And financially I'd MUCH rather do 2 or 3 races for the cost that a single marathon would cost me. Very hard to justify sinking all that money into one day. I can't even consider the cost of an out of town marathon right now, though THAT would interest me for the experience. I can't even fathome the disappointment if I trained for and paid a bunch of money for a single race and something occurred that made it not 100% ideal. I'd be devastated.
It's hard to consider this all right now. I have been running on tired legs for what seems like forever now. My pace is struggling and I can't help but feel concerned that it will never return (I've been assured by many that it will once I resume normal activity levels). And now I have this pesky little injury that will sideline me for a week or so. But, I've essentially been training for a marathon, using the quick method plan and not exactly following ideal nutrition/fluid/rest/sleep schedules. No doubt my legs are revolting, no doubt I'm questioning my sanity and my drive. Normal I expect???
With 2011 fast approaching, I of course am contemplating what it is I want to achieve in the next year. No, I don't HAVE to decide this by January 1st, but it is an ideal time to seriously consider it. Yet, I'm still blowing in the wind. Maybe a marathon will make the list .... maybe it will be tabled. Time will tell.