Are Marathons Boring?

I’m posting a weekly running update as the Belfast Marathon is only 22 days away. It’s crept up so quickly and next weekend I will have my final long run of 21 miles before I ease back on the mileage, known as tapering, in advance of the big day. This week I’ve ran roughly 30 miles so it’s been pretty steady with no spectacular distances or times. Next week will be a different kettle of fish, however, which should see my training cycle peak at 50 miles.

I’ve been watching a lot of the Commonwealth Games over the last two weeks and was saddened to see top Scottish distance runner, Callum Hawkins, collapsing a mile from the finish in the men’s marathon when leading by over two minutes. It was a very distressing sight and shows that even the best runners cannot take the 26.2 mile event for granted. I hope he recovers from the physical and mental effects of the experience and returns better than ever.

I’m not sure what went wrong with Callum; whether it was his hydration strategy, pacing or the infamous wall that many runners hit in the final miles of the event. I was asked during the week do I not get bored during a marathon. What do I think about to pass the time? The scenes of Callum Hawkins collapsing prove that it is impossible to be bored during a distance race. Your mind is constantly processing information regarding the route, weather, road surface, hydration, gels, pacing and other runners.

You’re also dealing with the internal struggle. The voice in your head constantly doubting your ability to complete the race, telling you to give up and stop. It exaggerates every little niggle and turns each climb into Mount Everest. There is no hiding place in the marathon. Unless you have prepared to the best of your ability it will find you out, chew you up and spit you out at the side of the road. To me it is the ultimate physical and mental challenge which is why they mean more to me than any other distance.

Marathons are exhilarating, exhausting, excruciating, frustrating and heart breaking. But don’t ever call them boring.

Are marathon runners mad? Discus.

33 thoughts on “Are Marathons Boring?

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  1. The answer to your question has to be yes. Everyone tells me I’m insane. You should do an ultra and then watch everyone’s reaction. Especially if you have a step counter and tell them the most steps you ever did in one day was 88,000. Yes mad, crazy, insane, stupid all of the above.
    My biggest fear is getting picked up by the you are going to slow bus and hauled to the finish line. I’ve never even been close but still the irrational fear continues.
    Happy marathon day.
    Ps I just blew off my longest run yesterday. After the brilliant idea to run a half straight and not walk and then working five days straight (I’m a part time princess and work three and not in a row) I had no energy for that kind of distance and would have done more harm than good! In my defense I did manage well over thirty miles just walking both intentional and at work. Thanks for letting me confess. Bahahaha

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  2. I’m currently thinking I’m mad for ever signing up for a marathon this fall. 😉 But the physical/mental challenge is why I love running. And after a few halfs I just want to see if I can do the full.

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    1. You make an interesting point. Callum Hawkins is a professional athlete competing in a major games. I guess pressure is par for the course for those guys. As for me running actually relieves the pressure of life and aids my mental health. It’s like an escape valve if that makes sense?

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      1. Yes that’s different, You use it to clear your mind and relax whereas others feel under more pressure to perform the more they run. I think Instagram has a lot to do with it. Everyone is training harder and for longer all the time sometimes at a detriment to their health.

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        1. Totally. I was in a running group and a WhatsApp where everyone was obsessed with running faster and beating each other. It was very unhealthy and I’ve left both now. I don’t aim for personal bests as it was no longer enjoyable. There is a lot of vanity & posing at races now. Runners can be very arrogant.

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          1. Yes I can see this. I think Scott has a good group of guys in his club that are all very encouraging thankfully but a lot of what he looks at on insta just seems to put pressure on. I think as long as you keep yourself grounded, That you are meant to be doing this because it’s enjoyable, hopefully you won’t do yourself an injury and over prioritise what is after all only a hobby.

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  3. I remember the dreaded wall at mile 24 where I walked for a mile. I had been fighting it since mile 20 as I watched others I was pacing with bail. I only did one marathon and have so much admiration for you Stephen! Such an accomplishment. You’re going to Rock It!!!

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  4. Marathons are only mad and boring to non-runners. Only a runner can understand the craziness of other runners! Lol As to a marathon being boring ….for me the long training runs can get very boring but the marathon itself is anything and everything but boring. It’s exactly as you described …a constant mental and physical struggle. I’m a slow runner and it took me well over 5 hours to run my first marathon, yet I was never once bored …too many things to think about during those 5+ hours. Good luck with your upcoming race!

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  5. I can’t imagine running being boring or crazy. Just the opposite! Exercise, especially hard cardio, helps me keep sane.

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  6. You, know that’s a big YES from me 😉 I am constantly teasing my husband about his races. He did a triathlon this past weekend (he did excellent.) While I AM proud of him….I do question his sanity! Your post gave me some good insite on why he does it though!

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  7. Running isn’t boring. I’m not a very good runner but I do 5 to 10 kms in our local runs. Running is exhausting yes, but at the end of the run, it gives a feeling of peace and of having done something. I like running 😊

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