Thursday, December 23, 2010

Marathon Pros & Cons

I recently came across a post at Running My Mouth regarding pros & cons of running a marathon.  This is something that consumes my mind on a regular basis.  As of yet, the scales have not fully tipped in either direction.  I'm balancing on that fence, swaying in the wind.  So I thought I'd put together a list of my thoughts on the subject in a more expanded form than the comment section of her blog.

This thought process is not new, I've questioned it before (HERE).  I'm just gathering more thoughts on it, but am still not conclusive.

  • 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.
I'm right on the fence.  Having just gone through a compressed training plan with my friend for her upcoming marathon I've gotten a bit of a taste ... and yet I still don't know which way I lean.

I think I do want to do one.  I cetainly think about it alot!  I just don't really know yet what is driving that desire and maybe I need that answer to make my decision.  I want to be able to say I've done one, even though I have complete confidence now that I could do one, so the actual completion is not the challenge.  I know that for me I would have to determine a goal time and THAT would be the challenge for me.  I don't need an actual race just to feel like I've accomplished the distance.

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.

Keep Active!



Katie said...

Obviously you have to do what is right for you, but I think you should do it! Reason being you have put in the miles and you have had some awesome long runs, so I think you could rock it and you would feel very happy that you did it.

I have been having the same debate and I'm also leaning on the NO side, my biggest issues: I much prefer training to run faster, to running longer, a past childhood hip disease is flaring up and I don't know if my hip could handle the high mileage. For me I think the marathon is not my thing, but being surrounded by so many passionate marathoners in this running community, it is hard not to want to do one.

Whatever we both decide will be the right decision for us! :D

Anonymous said...

just do it!

Marlene said...

Great lists and so very true on all of these points! When and if the time comes that you are ready to go for it, you'll now. In the meantime, happy running!

kimert said...

Gah! I have missed reading your blog. For some reason it wasn't showing in my reader. Whew. Whatever happened fixed itself and there you are again!! YAY!
Your PRO/CON list is great.
I've been giving a lot of thought about what I want to accomplish (running wise) in 2011. I hope I can settle on the goal and run (haha - pun!) with it. :)

Anonymous said...

LOL - regarding Aneta's comment! I was sort of thinking the same thing! I mean 22 miles girl, you are practically there! And well, I do appreciate that you are thinking of the pros and cons as running a marathon is a big decision. But I feel as though you have crossed the line of knowing whether or not you can do it (I never even ran 22 miles before my marathon) but I guess it's whether or not you feel good about that descision.
I wish you the best whatever you decide to do. And I understand the weight aspect of it. But hey I ended up shedding a few pounds in the end. So not all people gain weight during training. I can give you tips on the things I did wrong during my training if you are interested. I wished I had read more posts like that when I was training. Good luck Heidi and I support whatever you descision you make! :)

Fran said...

I think you will do one in 2011! If anyone can do it, it's you. You've got the discipline for training and you've already run 22 miles!

I myself will never run a marathon, I don't have the desire to do so. I don't even know if I will do another half marathon after April. As you close your post: time will tell!

I want to wish you and your beautiful family a happy Christmas.

Tamara said...

Here are my thoughts:

I think a marathon is the natural next step for you to take. I doubt you will stop asking yourself these questions until the answer is yes.

And if it snows 18 feet (approximately, I may be exaggerating) and the highways close and you can't make it to the marathon (like it did for my first 10K) then you'll run the next one.

I think you need to do it. Emhasis on You Need and not I think by the way. :)

Syl said...

all I can say is that of anyone I know that is a runner, you deserve the title of marathoner. I know that you would do amazing, I know that you have fears, just like I did when I did my half, but I also know that you would kick butt.
My goal is to do a full Marathon by 40. I'm not there yet but I still have some years to train. You ARE THERE Heidi, I say go for it!

ajh said...

I assumed you were doing a marathon because you were running 22 miles. You are ready already. You could do one. Try one and then decide if you want to do more. I am a once a year marathon person (none this year - yes the injury) but I am not ready to give up. Having said that I love half marathons. You decide!

Darlene said...

I, like the rest, assumed that anyone running 22 miles must be training for a it seems that are are ready! If you don't do it, you'll always wonder if you could. On the other hand, there's no shame in running half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, etc. (from the mouth of someone who won't run a marathon & is ok with it).

Terri said...

I think you need a rest. I think you should make this decision with a rested body, rested legs and a rested mind! JMHO.

Anonymous said...

Go for it kid. You can do it. Love from your mama and papa

Anonymous said...

I have these same thoughts about a half marathon. My biggest issue is proper training and weight loss. I want to get to my goal weight before contemplating any big training plan. But you're awesome and already running so much, I think if I were you, I'd have to do it. Pick a good one, a big one, a fun one, and knock that off your bucket list. I bet you'll be glad you did.

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

....maybe it's divine intervention that I came to your blog today. I was looking at the HBBC totals and decided to look at your blog and wow, what timing.

Do it! Yes, you must! I think all serious runners (serious meaning runners who consistently run) should run at least 1 marathon. Then you can decide. You will have the satisfaction of saying you completed a marathon, which feels great. If you run smart, you can greatly reduce the risk of injury (follow the 10% rule). Yes, it takes a lot of time, but if you have run 22 miles, you are already putting in the time.

I can tell you, if it is on your mind a lot of the time, it will NOT go away until you do it. So 2011 is a good year to give it a try. You may do 1 and never do another, or you may become addicted (I'm currently training for #19 and I only wanted to complete 1 marathon)

Fran said...

Just dropping in to wish you a happy new year Heidi.

Thank you for your neverending support and advice and I look forward to following you in 2011.