Marathons: Not Just For Masochists Anymore

“Hopelessly Inadequate” is not  something most people like to feel first thing on a Sunday morning- let alone when you haven’t even had your  sweet nectar of life morning coffee yet.  But feel it I did, as I sleepily stumbled out of my apartment and straight into dozens of dry-fit, numbered-bib clad runners, all making their way to the starting line of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Of course, “inadequate” was not the only thing I felt upon encountering these shiny, happy (presumably already caffeinated) individuals at 8 a.m. “Fat”  and  “resentful” were also thrown in there, peppered by a slight hint of self-loathing.

It also made me think back on my own experiences as a distance runner.

I’ve always considered myself somewhat athletic; I played soccer and basketball in high school, ran the occasional 5k, and have been sufficiently trained in the arts of  smurf-bitingfigure four leg locks; and the circle game due to having two older brothers.

Perhaps fuelled by this sense of  false confidence, 3 years ago I signed up to run a half-marathon.

Yeah- that happened.

I spent about 6 months training, running anywhere from 30-50 km/ week, and during this process, I learned a number of important lessons:

  • Chafing is no laughing matter
  • You will not lose any weight while training, because you will constantly be as hungry as Kirstie Alley on an all-protein shake diet
  • Cotton is not your friend
  • No matter what delicious sounding flavour combinations they come up with, energy gels will always taste like ass

and, most importantly:

  • Anyone who would ever attempt to run TWICE this distance- a full marathon- must be a masochist.

You see, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with running.  I mean, I do it and everything- but I’d be lying if I said I was primarily motivated by a love for the sport, rather than an overarching desire to look like Giselle Bunchden.

Image via

While I love the feeling of having completed a run, the process itself is usually  painful, and I spend most of my time wishing it were over. About 1 run out of 10, I manage to hit “the zone” and am all “one with my thoughts” and stuff; but  unfortunately for me, on the day of my half, instead of hitting “the zone”- I only managed to hit a deep dark zone called hell. For 2…straight….hours. I remember  seeing the full marathoners continuing on for another 21 kilometres, and thinking to  myself  that these people must be distant relatives of  Astar- the Robot from Planet Danger,  who are either impervious to pain, or have some sort of  sick fascination with it.

I can put my arm back on- You can't

But yesterday, as I looked at this group of runners on the street, I was surprised at how.. well… normal they all looked. In fact, their levels of fitness seemed to be less “Kenyan Immigrant” and more   “couldn’t watch a ‘Top Chef’ marathon let alone run one“. 

And there were so MANY of them. In fact, 3,951 people completed the full marathon this year. Waayyyt? I did a little investigatory journalism on google and discovered that  marathoning is incredibly hot right now.  The Boston Marathon sold out last year in under 8 hours, and marathon participation in the US is up nearly 10% in the past two years.  It seems like any joe blow is doing it-  joining a Team In Training to raise money for charity, or simply crossing off another item on their “bucket list”. Time Magazine even published an article about this phenomenon recently. They blame Facebook.

I blame Star Wars.

I find this all very frightening. We stage interventions for people who engage in other sorts of self-harming behavior, like cutting, or crystal meth additions, and yet we all stand by and watch marathoners throw themselves at the mercy of the unforgiving running gods time and time again. What gives??

I called up a Marathoner friend of mine (who has completed two ridiculously fast marathons, and qualified for Boston in her first shot..I’m convinced she’s part gazelle), and asked her point blank why she puts herself through this. She gave me two reasons:  

1. The “Runner’s High” you get after completing a marathon is apparently one of the most intense feelings of natural euphoria. 

Fair…. But that sh*t fades. I’m not buyin it.

2. Carbo Loading.  When training for a marathon, you can basically eat whatever the hell you want… and in the weeks leading up to the marathon- your diet is meant to consist of approximately 70% Carbohydrates.

THERE it is.

It’s so simple- why I didn’t think of this. You little marathoning robots aren’t exceptionally virtuous OR masochistic… you’re just hopelessly addicted to pasta and dinner rolls. Instead of feeling jealous of you,  I should be feeling sorry for you.. or offering to fix you a salad.

Well – I guess if we’ve learned anything here today, it’s this:  Friends don’t let friends run marathons. 

……Unless they offer for you to be their plus one at the pre-race pasta dinner.  Then I guess its ok.

Question of the Day: What’s your view on Marathons?


7 thoughts on “Marathons: Not Just For Masochists Anymore

Add yours

  1. You’re friggin’ hilarious. And correct. I think.
    I think marathons are KUH-RAY-ZEH! Do I wanna run one? Um, YES! Why? *thinks really hard* I don’t know. I just like doing things. And that carb stuff… Yeah. I’m all about bread, pasta, rice, and a potatoes. If I can have those in unlimited quantities, SIGN. ME. Up. Now-ish.
    I’m training for my first 5k. Turns out, I’m doing this for more than fun. Also for work. My new job (started yesterday) is with an org that does an annual bike-athon to raise money for cancer research, and they’re all about sending me out to support other ish. With my body. Yeah. I guess I can start to take this training even MORE seriously now.
    I’m generally AMAZED by the mind and the body, and what they can do (together, and individually) when you give ’em enough room to do it. KUH-RAY-ZEH!

    1. Awesome post.
    2. You’re hilarious.
    3. Let’s run a 5k some time, k?


    1. haha- thanks! Marathons are kuh-ray-zeh- but 5ks can be kind of fun… congrats on training for your first one! If you buy my plane ticket I will totally come and run it with you 🙂


  2. So funny Bree! Mmmm thinking about unlimited pasta, bread and coldstone (it counts as carbs, right?) almost makes me want to run another one. *Almost*


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