How I Know I Am A Grown-Up: Half or Full Marathon

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I have run two half marathons and have a third in mind for next March. Since my last on in October, I’ve had the goal of keeping a long run alternating between 8 and 10 miles per week (along with several shorter runs, obviously). That is mostly what I  do to train. It hasn’t worked out consistently so far – either my sleep schedule, work schedule, yoga schedule, or just my body – has gotten in the way – but once those things align, I don’t really need to build up to that distance. I’ll just go.

I’m pretty happy with this plan. It probably doesn’t follow some recommended training plan, but it works well enough for me. My first half time was about 2:15, the last  2:07, and I’d like to do at least some speed work and aim to break 2 hours next time. That may be a long shot. But, like with my training plan, it’s a goal I’m comfortable with.

A friend who likes ultra marathons encouraged me to try for the full. It’s really an accomplishment, he said. I told him I hadn’t registered yet, so I still had time to consider. But my response to myself made me feel like a grown up.

I realized pretty quickly that right now I just don’t want to run a full marathon. A half is not only enough, it’s pretty damn good. The half is an accomplishment. I don’t want to block off more time for longer runs. I don’t want to write off a whole day off because I ran 20 miles in the morning and need to stay in bed all day after. I don’t want to take one more day a week off yoga. I prefer running longer distances on my own, and the thought of going more than 3 hours on my own is mind-boggling, and lonely. And I don’t want to hurt my body. I’ve done that in a variety of other ways already and it’s been enough.

Running even as much as I already do is a serious time commitment. It definitely affects  my work schedule and my social life. So does my commitment to yoga. I absolutely respect longer distance runners for their dedication to training. I think most of them do it because they love it, though, and they truly want to. You’d have to be a bit crazy to do it otherwise. And even practically, physically – I am not sure a person could run for more than 3 hours if they didn’t have a strong intrinsic drive … or were running from a bear or dinosaur.

In the past, I might have tried to train for the marathon and resented it, or just tried and then felt bad stopping when it got to be too much. But I know I am a grown up because I am not going to. I have a sense of my limits. And I want to set myself up for success. Running a third half marathon does that for me.

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