The other day I saw a singlet with the word ‘Marathoner’ on the back and something bothered me about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about people being proud of their achievements and sharing that pride with others. All about that. I will be the first person in line to congratulate someone on achieving a big goal. And a marathon is a big goal. But you don’t need to run a really long way to have a big goal. Longer isn’t necessarily better. Or more impressive. Or even requiring more training.
Greatness in running isn’t measured by how far you go, or how fast you go, it’s all in the spirit.
For my marathon I had a 17 week training plan. But you know what, training for my fast 5k took about the same amount of time. In some ways it was harder. I struggle with the 5k distance because it’s an all out effort. There’s no room for settling into it you just have to put your foot down and go. There’s no time to make it up if you have to stop for a few cars, there really is very little room for error. By the last 500m of my last 5k time trial I felt pretty close to throwing up but at that point I wasn’t going to waste 4.5km of really hard effort to fall apart in the last 500m.
The marathon is challenging in different ways. You kind of get to just over half way and you think that you are bullet proof and then you realise YOU ARE ONLY HALF WAY and it’s a real mental struggle to keep it together at that point. But for me once I got past 30 I was pretty much able to coast through to the end.
On balance I would say that the 5k and the marathon were about the same level of difficulty. And although the marathon was a far more emotional run for me, I couldn’t really say which achievement I am more proud of. That sub 25 minute 5k was on hills, I had muscle soreness, it was hot and I was really bloody proud of it.
So you won’t see me getting around calling myself a marathoner or an ultrarunner like it somehow puts me in a different category than a runner.
I am a runner. That’s where the pride is and nowhere else.