To Run, or Not to Run a Marathon?

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the marathon. I ran my one and only marathon last year in New York City and it was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. However, the singularity of that event was a bit lessened by the fact that over 50,000 other runners were there with me. In fact, finishing a marathon becomes less extraordinary every year.

2013 US Marathon Statistics

For weeks before and after the race everything was centered around the marathon. Before the race, I would think to myself: “Would a marathoner eat this, would a marathoner risk playing pick-up basketball, would marathoner take a day off from training?” After the race everything was relative to race day. Someone might ask “What did you have for breakfast?” And, I would think to myself “Well I had a cinnamon raisin bagel, just like I did on the morning of the NYC Marathon.” I usually managed to keep the last part of the sentence in my head, but not always.

It’s been six months since I ran the New York City Marathon. The shine has already begun to wear off and I’m at a cross-roads in my training. Do I do another one? Or, do I focus on shorter distances now that I have the marathon checked off my to do list? Why do I run? What am I running to.. or from? You can see this line of thinking will get me nowhere. So, I’ve resorted to a tried and true method of decision making: the pros and cons list.


  • I’m in good shape now and I may not have the option to run one again later
  • I can pretty much eat everything in sight during marathon training
  • A marathon usually justifies a racecation
  • A chance to qualify for Boston (and run another marathon) if I can shave off 6 minutes
  • Another medal, another story, another 26.2 mile test of endurance and willpower


  • Long hours spent training means less hours spent with family
  • Running a marathon means not running many smaller races
  • A marathon has a huge recovery period compared to smaller distances
  • There is the real chance of developing an overuse injury
  • I may end up losing the fun aspect of running

I’m not sure there is a clear answer here, but I’d love to know what you think. Are you struggling with this decision? What factors went into your decision-making process?

Data Source:

4 thoughts on “To Run, or Not to Run a Marathon?

  1. Do what you love, love what you do :-). If you do want to do a marathon – go for it. Otherwise enjoy the smaller races. Since you already did one recently, I think your concern about an over-use injury is valid. In your shoes, I would wait until the end of June, and then see how you feel, race a couple of 5K-10K’s see how they feel, but most of all don’t loose your joy for running. 🙂

  2. Hmmmm. I have run several marathons and I’ve never lost my love of running… But I do get where you are coming from. I think it’s a soul searching decision. I can justify training because i don’t have kids yet, and it husband works saturday mornings-so this is the day I do my long run on.
    It is always worth it once you cross that finish line. I think, that knowing what you know about the marathon, have had experience with it, can help you towards accomplishing a goal like a BQ-esp bc you’re so close-6 minutes is Impressive!!

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