EVERY TIME I TELL SOMEONE I’m a runner, they never fail to ask the same question: have you run a marathon? In the past, I’ve answered this with some variation of “Not yet, but I probably will soon.” The truth is that I’m a bald-faced liar.
In all of these interactions, it’s what I felt I should say. Because somewhere in my mind, I really didn’t think I’d be considered a ‘real’ runner if I wasn’t at least planning on racing 42.2km. Maybe it was because I was afraid of being judged, but I wanted to do everything I could to make myself seem legitimate and fit in – fit into what, I’m not even sure. In reality, every time I gave my answer, I knew I wasn’t going to go home and find a marathon to sign up for.
There’s a tendency to think that the marathon is the pinnacle of running – something that beginners should work up to, and something that those who’ve been at it for years should have under their belts. The assumption is that the longer the distance, the harder the race – effort is often forgotten. And I’ll admit that when I was first starting out, I fell into this way of thinking because it’s easy to see the 5K as no big deal. It’s a distance that people usually think of as a ‘fun run’, or ‘great for someone who’s just beginning’. And it is. I’ve run many local 5Ks whe