Ahhh the quintessential training questions. Marathoners love to talk about their training, but there are a few questions we prefer you don’t ask. While we realize that many non-runners mean well, some questions should just be off-limits.
“My cousin couldn’t walk for days after she finished her marathon — you sure you want to deal with that?”
Most of us tackling the 26.2 mile distance understand that it’s dangerous (after all, someone died doing it the first time…). We get that no matter how much or correctly we train, there’s always a chance that we can get injured. It can happen to novice runners, elite runners, and Olympians alike. It’s a risk we are willing to take, and the odds for healthy adults are usually more in their favor of not experiencing any serious injuries
With that in mind, please understand that ever runner is different. What happened to one person isn’t what is going to happen to the next. Plenty of marathoners run through the finish line and then walk to brunch a few blocks over. We don’t want to talk about worst case scenarios. Please stop.
“Do you realize a marathon is 26 miles?”
First off, .2. A marathon is 26.2 miles. Now that we got that out of the way, the answer to this is an astounding “yes.” We DO realize that a marathon is an extremely long, challenging, patience and stamina testing distance. We realize that somewhere around mile 20, our bodies will want to stop. We are well-aware of the distance for which we’ve signed up. But thank you for the confirmation, Aunt Linda.
“Are you going to run the whole thing?”
PSA: Running an entire distance, regardless of what it is, doesn’t qualify anyone as a “runner.” What defines someone as a runner is their drive and passion for their sport and to continually be the best they can be. Most of us are concerned only about beating one person: ourselves. We continually strive to be better, stronger, and more mentally prepared than we were in the last race. Completing a marathon has nothing to do with the statistical data on how much we’ve run vs. how much we’ve walked.
Plus, there are entire methods and training plans built on the walk/run/walk method that was coined and developed by Olympian Jeff Galloway (FYI: he qualified for Boston using the RWR method). Heck, there are a ton of training plans out there dedicated to walking a marathon! It doesn’t matter if we walk, run, crawl, skip, or backflip our way through the course — marathon finishers are marathon finishers, and that’s what matters.
“What if you don’t finish it?”
Ummm, I don’t know? Please stop asking this question because we don’t train for damage control; we train to complete the marathon. Sure, we take steps to avoid injuries and a big, fat, DNF. Some of those steps include obtaining the proper footwear, getting taped up at the KT Tape booth at the expo, and test driving a lot of gear and nutrition (sports drinks, gels, etc.) during training. But…we don’t sit there trying to bullet proof race day.
Again, we understand that no matter how many times we run the marathon distance and no matter how trained we are, we have no idea what will happen out on that course. So much is out of our control. We prepare to plan to finish, but we understand that we really can’t predict what happens over the course of 26.2 miles.
“Did you know running is bad for your knees?”
Wow, really?! NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE [insert eye roll emoji]. According to WebMD, running isn’t necessarily bad for your knees; running incorrectly is bad for your knees. The same article includes the following insight regarding the commonly discussed issue of running and its role in the development of arthritis and osteoporosis:
“A multi-year study of almost 75,000 runners published in July 2013 found that, contrary to popular belief, running does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. In fact, runners in the study were found to be in less jeopardy of arthritis than their non-active counterparts. Another study, published in September 2013, netted similar findings, showing that while the impact from running is high, runners’ feet strike the ground less frequently and more briefly than if they were walking — so, in essence, running and walking put the same stress on the knees.”
High impact exercise carries a risk. Any type of exercise carries a risk. I can promise you, though, that it’s better to run than be sedentary. #quotemeonthat
Instead of approaching the subject of marathon training with doubt and pessimism, consider ask the following questions that your friends or family in-training want to answer:
- Are you excited?
- Where are you going to celebrate after you finish the race?
- What do you plan on wearing?
- What does the medal look like?
- Are you crazy?*
*Trust me on this one — it’s a right of passage.