Second thoughts on running Boston Marathon
Second thoughts on running Boston Marathon
Second thoughts on running Boston Marathon

Last week, I did my long run with my much-speedier, 20-something teammate Kylie (and I survived). As is the case when you’re running with someone, conversation topics morph from food to work to love life to friends to hobbies, but the discussion always circles back to running. As we finished the last miles of our run, we talked about marathons. I am slated to run the Boston Marathon again this April. Kylie has never done a marathon, but is in no particular hurry to do one. “I think I’m going to run my first marathon when I’m 40,” she mused. (Not a bad idea. I ran my first 26.2 at age 49.).

After we parted, I finished my scheduled mileage solo. That’s when the realization hit me like lightning: I am not at all excited about running Boston this year. I felt sad when I realized this, but I also felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders: I was finally able to put a name to the the “blah” frame of mind that had been trailing me like dark cloud every time I thought about running Boston. By contrast, I am super stoked about running some of the shorter spring races (5K to half marathon) that I prefer.

I don’t necessarily have to run Boston. There’s still time to change up my spring training plan. But not much time. To race well, you really need to train specifically for the races you are going to run. Since I’m more of a 5K-10K specialist, training for a mileage range from 3.1 to 26.2 miles is not the most efficient use of my time. When I registered, I thought I would just run the Boston Marathon for “fun,” with no goals beyond enjoying the experience and considering it a long training run. Now, I’m wondering in retrospect if this was a bad idea.

I want to be transparent in this blog to help other runners who are facing similar quandaries. I’m also hoping that writing my thoughts will help me come to a decision, which I will need to do soon. Either I will decide not to run Boston, or I will somehow muster up my marathon mojo and get excited about running it.

Before I present my case, let me express gratitude at being lucky enough to face this first-world decision. I’ve traveled to many developing countries where simply owning a pair of shoes is a luxury. Where there’s no time for therapy or self-exploration because people are too busy figuring out where their next meal is coming from or how to keep their kids safe from the cross-fire of gang warfare. I am super blessed to have the health and means to be able to run and race, period. So I am keeping my perspective. It’s all good. Whatever I decide, it’s small potatoes in the scheme of things.

My case against running the 2017 Boston Marathon

  • I ran Boston last year, and I can’t imagine topping the wonder of the experience.
  • I am not a marathoner. Yes, I can run marathons. Yes, my times were respectable for my age and experience. But 26.2 is not my “thing” in terms of either talent or interest. Every runner is predisposed to being better at certain distances. I’m better at 5K to 10K, decent at half marathons. I also prefer shorter distances because I like the adrenaline rush/endorphin bath I get when running fast.
  • I am not crazy about the Boston course – lots of hills and downhills, so it’s quite technical. Not a PR course.
  • Training for and running a marathon is super hard on your body, especially as a masters runner. Especially on a hilly/downhilly course like Boston.
  • Training for a marathon requires a huge time commitment.
  • Marathon training will increase my odds for becoming injured and for not being able to race and/or do well in the shorter races I prefer and tend to be better at
  • I want and need a break. I’ve done 3 marathons in the past 2 years, Work is stressful and busy. Life is stressful and busy. Running is an outlet and keeps me sane, and I want to keep it that way. I don’t want running to become yet another stressor. I’m fairly sure I want to run another marathon; there are several on my life list. But if I am going to invest all that time and work into training for a marathon, I damn well want to be excited about it.

My case for running the 2017 Boston Marathon

Rereading the list above, these are all cogent reasons to not run Boston. If a friend had written this, I would urge her to not run. But I am not one to make rash decisions, so of course, I’m examining the counterpoints:

  • Running Boston remains an elusive, lifelong goal for many runners. Many runners struggle to qualify at all, even after much hard work. I easily qualified for Boston in all 3 marathons I’ve run. Yes, I worked hard and I deserved to qualify. But I feel like not running would be wasting an opportunity for which I should be extremely grateful.
  • Budget-wise, I already paid for the marathon, booked an Air B&B room and bought a flight. I could exchange the flight and would get a partial refund on the room. But I would lose the marathon entry fee. (On the other hand, I could use the savings on the other items, plus meals, etc to take a much-needed vacation).
  • I love marathon training as much as I hate it. All you 26.2-ers know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, I’m going to let this marinate for another week or so.

What do you think? Should I run the Boston Marathon again – or not? Please answer the poll below.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Do you think I should run the 2017 Boston Marathon? free polls

7 thoughts on “Second thoughts about the Boston Marathon

  1. Thanks for your honesty. I’m running my 1st 2017 Boston Marathon as a charity runner and I’m already wondering if I’ll run again in 2018 as a time qualifier (finally BQd at 12th attempt since 2013) for many reasons so I can relate to your list. If you decide to run, I hope to see you there. ‪

  2. Thanks for your honesty. I’m running my 1st 2017 Boston Marathon as a charity runner and I’m already wondering if I’ll run again in 2018 as a time qualifier (finally BQd at 12th attempt since 2013) for many reasons so I can relate to your list. If you decide to run, I hope to see you there. ‪

  3. Hi TwinsRun, Thanks for your support. So glad you’re running Boston. It’s a fantastic experience and kudos to you for running it for charity. If I do run, we’ll be in touch 🙂 Go get ’em!

  4. Sounds to me like you’d be better off skipping Boston this year… I can identify with everything you listed. It’s a huge time commitment and takes a lot our of your body. If you aren’t fully committed and motivated, do the shorter stuff! Mentally you might find that the break is helpful and come back around to doing more marathons. But there is also nothing wrong with giving up the marathon distance. I’ve been toying with that idea … I want to do a few more but I also know I’ll be done with the marathon in the next few years. It really beats me up, and I’m no less of a runner if I focus on other distances!

  5. I am so GLAD I found your post. I just actually GOOGLED "not wanting to run the Boston Marathon" and your recent entry came up. I feel almost EXACTLY the same way. I have raced many marathons, and I have "just run" marathons. And I am from Boston, but have recently moved South. I also do not like the course or the logistics of the day, and I am increasingly hating marathon training and would prefer to just focus on 5K/10K and perhaps toss in an occasional half marathon. I have already registered for Boston, and booked a flight, and rented an Airbnb. Kind of like you. I can put the JetBlue miles back into my account and probably get all, if not a partial refund, on my rental since it will surely rent out easily to all of the last minute, desperate runners who don’t have a place to stay. The thing is, my heart is just not in it. I did a 16 mile run last weekend and the realization really just hit home that I wanted to be done with all this slower marathon type stuff. There are a zillion 5Ks and half marathons this winter where I live and I don’t want to have to skip them all and go out and slog off 2-3 hour long runs. From your post, it sounds like you like the training to some degree, and I don’t mind long runs of up to 14 miles, but of course we can still do those without having to actually run the marathon. I am in the 50-54 age group and I may just be done with marathons….but not racing and doing track work. I really love that and it keeps me strong where I don’t feel the marathon training really does that for me. Anyhow, thanks for posting. Deciding not to run Boston is not an easy thing to admit, especially on a running blog, where most people would think you were nuts. I think you are perfectly sane. 🙂

  6. Laura, You are the voice of reason and balance, as ever 🙂 The marathon surely does beat up your body. I think it’s best to focus on the distances that make your heart happy.

  7. Jennifer, I’m glad this post helped you. Usually, when you’re feeling a certain way, you’re not the only one – which is why I decided to share.

    I do enjoy marathon training.I But the problem is I enjoy speed work and training for the shorter distances much more – and in terms of training specifically, it’s really difficult to squeeze all of that into a training cycle and set yourself up for success, not to mention stay injury-free.

    We can’t all be everything. Musicians don’t play all genres. Pro basketball players don’t also feel compelled to play pro football. So why should we runners feel we have to excel and and compete in every distance? There are enough races for all of us. And then there’s the fun factor. Happy training!

    I LOLed at your last lines 😉

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