Today at physical therapy, the guy on the treadmill next to my elliptical asked me if I was training for a marathon. A Marathon. The Holy Grail of Running. Everyone and their brother seems to be chasing that same white stag, training to someday run a marathon. Additionally, whenever someone finds out you're a runner, they always seem to ask the same question: "Have you run a marathon?" followed by "What did you run for it?" Never mind that most of these people don't know the first thing about marathon times, and whether I said "2:05" or "5:00" they'd respond the same way, which, of course, is "Wow. Is that good? My sister-in-law is training for a marathon now. She can run XX miles without stopping! I get tired just thinking about it!"
So what about all the other distances? The majority of runners are better suited genetically to run a different distance (generally a shorter distance too, unless your name just so happens to be Ann Trason or Scott Jurek). I can see the appeal of wanting to see how fast you can run a marathon (I was subject to it too), but I guess I don't understand the whole mindset where the marathon is the be-all, end-all distance. What about the half-marathon? The half is fun, or at least as fun as running at just slower than tempo pace for 13.1 miles can be, anyway. And despite the fact that the 5K is just about everyone's first distance, it's certainly not a beginner distance. Heck, it's 3.1 miles at just slower than balls-to-the-wall pace. There's nothing beginner about that. So if that's just slower than balls-to-the-wall pace, what is balls-to-the-wall pace? Well, go race a mile. Or if you can find an open track meet, go race something *shudder* shorter than a mile. While a marathon is a slow roast over hot coals, where it starts out kind of warm and comfy, then slowly gets hotter and hotter until it's nearly unbearable, a shorter race is all about saying "Eff it" and diving headfirst into the fire. (Hal Higdon called it burning your fingers on a match, but I tend to like the jumping into a raging inferno metaphor better.)
Anyway, I told treadmill guy that no, I was not, and that I was just trying to get back out there. And I started to add that halves were more fun, but by that time, he was too busy asking whether I was on the elliptical because it was a better workout than the treadmill. Treadmill guy, I wish that was the reason I was on the elliptical instead of running. Really, I do.