The marathon is a fascinating distance. At the short distances, such as a 5K or 10K, you speed up until it hurts, and hold until someone says finished. Moving up to marathon distance, though, it becomes more of a thinking person’s race. The pundits claim the first third should be easy. Too easy. Starting out too fast is a trap that has claimed many a racer. But once you are past the first third, the race begins to hurt. Not the pain of a 5K, or heaven forfend, a mile. More of a grinding pain that threatens to wear away your very existence. Good marathon racers have both the physical training to run the distance and the mental fortitude to hold it together for long periods of suffering.
But not everyone approaches the marathon as a race. For others, it is an amazing accomplishment in its own right just to have covered the distance. Last year, according to www.findmymarathon.com/statistics.php, only 529,444 people finished a marathon in the US. Given that there are roughly 319 million Americans, that would imply that only less than 0.2% ran a marathon in 2012. But a fair number of those are repeat offenders, so we are getting close to only one in 1000 Americans finished a marathon last year.
The marathon also takes place over a long time. A 5K is a blur that passes almost before it starts. Most race reports for a 5K consist of, “The gun went off. And it hurt. And I hit the finish.” The marathon allows you to dwell on so many things, and have so many experiences during the run. The distance will take you to some strange places in your head, especially if you are having a bad race. We have asked club members who ran a marathon this year to give us their thoughts on the race. In particular, we asked club marathoners to focus a bit on the training that got them to be able to do what so few can do. Unfortunately, we did not get any takers, what with the holidays and all. Hopefully in a future issue.
We did, however, have a taker on the request for series about training. As you will see, Ben Pangie is going to keep us up to date as he makes the transition into the ultra world. If there are few marathoners among us, the ultra world is even more rarified. As the often cited quote goes, “Any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultramarathon!” I look forward to watching how Ben progresses toward his goal.
Pam Aman attended several talks about training recently and condenses the wisdom she gathered. And Dick Nelson has provided a take on an interesting Turkey Trot.