Anything that puts down runners in the slightest way definitely gets said runners feathers all ruffled. One of my most-read columns ever was My Response to Chad Stafko's Article that Runners Need to Get Over Themselves. The one ruffling feathers now is JoAnna Novak's No Marathon For Me, Thanks: Five Reasons She's Opting Out.
I hesitate to link to it or even reply but I had a few friends ask me for my opinion on it so I thought, hey what the heck. Ignoring that it is obviously written to get the most clicks possible, (it worked- I am writing about it) Ms. Novak makes a valid point or two. But I wanted to write an open letter to her with some point-by-point responses and maybe a little advice. Of course I am not a Pushcart-Prize-nominated author of three chapbooks (I had to do a lot of googling there to find out what those are) but I have dealt in the realm of pissing people off on a rather regular basis. I hope this helps.
JoAnna: "1. OPRAH: Ever since Oprah ran the Marine Corps Marathon
(with her time of 4:29:20) in 1994, marathons have been about
completion. According to “How Oprah Ruined the Marathon,” Edward
McClelland’s 2007 article in Salon, the queen of daytime
television ushered in a new era of populist racing. Forget a competitive
time—the point of running 26.2 miles could simply be … to finish? For
better or for worse, I’m a perfectionist, an all-or-nothing gal, who
wants to go big or go home. I’m not going big with a marathon so … I’ll
Me: Marathons have always been about completion. The simple fact that the body can handle about 20 miles before it really starts to break down its stores of glycogen makes those extra 6.2 miles the reason a marathon, no matter how many times you run it, will always be about completion. Sure, the times have slowed over the past twenty years as more and more people who wouldn't think of stepping out the door to run now jump right into the marathon. There are definitely pros and cons about that which I openly talk about with anyone who wants to hear. However, if you are going to label yourself a "go big or go home gal", lord do I hope you never run a slowish race. Because, since this is the internet, people will find your time and will mock you.
J: "2.) THE ME-ME-ME SHOW: Just like that pesky friend
who’s always announcing her new-found pescatarianism (minus oil, minus
dairy, plus chia), the hobby marathoner just rubs me the wrong way! From
her Facebook posts about the amazing sights she sees on her
long run, to the adoption of idiosyncratic lingo, to the epic race-day
dramas (fueling stations! strains!): call me a scrooge, but all that
attention just cramps my running style."
Me: Again, you make some valid points. I talk about slowing your roll with the use of "epic" and its ilk myself. But if those people bother you with their Facebook posts, remove them. I do it all the time. However, it is their Facebook wall, no matter how annoying they may be. And again, seriously, watch it with the hobby thing or my goodness if you aren't running 17 minute 5Ks, there is a shitstorm a-brewin'.
J: "3.) NOTHING TO PROVE: Eight years ago, though, I had
a different idea. I’ve always been a distance runner, so one summer I
toyed with the idea of training. Slowly, slowly, I upped my six miles to
seven to eight to nine to ten; for a couple weeks, I ran a comfortable
fourteen. And then, it hit me.
Fourteen miles took up two hours of my day. I’d put in the miles,
felt good, but for what? I could imagine myself tacking another
twelve-with-change onto that."
Me: You might not have anything to prove but this paragraph doesn't make much sense. Also, no offense, even a "hobby marathoner" might have a problem with you claiming you have "always been a distance runner" but had to "slowly, slowly" up your mileage past seven. I just had a friend who barely runs ask me if she had to do any long runs for her 15k and I was confused. The 15k isn't even a long run, I thought.
Also, you erroneously assume that "proving" something is the reason why we all run marathons. Some do and I wish they didn't. I think we should all just Do it For You. But we don't. Alas.
J: "4.) KNEES AND HEART: Only maybe is extreme distance racing beneficial for either."
Me: OK, now you are just becoming part of the problem. First of all, 26.2 miles is hard. Very hard. But it is not extreme. Second, I would hope by now a person who has "always been a distance runner" would know better than to think running is bad for your knees (it is not) or heart (are you kidding me?) Those theories should have been thrown out with the "uterus will fall out" bathwater about 75 years ago.
J: "5.) THE JOYS OF MODERATION: Yes, all-or-nothing is
great, but, contradictorily, I’m also a happy passenger on the
moderation train. Maybe it’s the prospect of turning thirty in a month,
but I want to be able to run for a long, long time. I’m happy to pace
myself now to ensure I can run just as well later."
Me: So I guess we should have just ignored the badassery that was the perfectionist stated earlier? Regardless, no one wants to run for a very long period of time less than me. And running and training for marathons (152 and counting), and 202 mile runs, and 350 mile runs over 7 days is not what is going to keep me from doing so.
Good luck on your upcoming 30th birthday. I hope it brings a little more wisdom with it than was showed in this article. If you ever decided to run a marathon, your article notwithstanding, I am sure runners would welcome you with open arms.