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Am I The Only Forty-Something Year Old Who Does NOT Want To Run A Marathon?

Updated on July 2, 2010


I never liked to run. I was always the short skinny kid in the back of the pack with the fat kids when it came to running around the track in grade school. I used to sing, tell jokes, do whatever it took to get my mind off the fact that I was supposed to be running laps. And something good came from it (I actually had my grade school “coach” cut me a deal that if I stop showing up to his class and stayed out of trouble for that period each day that he would give me an “A” for the year – deal done) I’m amazed at all the friends I have who seem to find a fondness for running later in their life. Am I the only forty-something year old who does NOT want to run a marathon? – Don’t Get Me Started!

I remember when it all started more than a few years ago. I had a co-worker my age who decided that she was going to run for an AIDs charity. She had a website and you could log on each day to hear about her throwing up, her toenails turning black and falling off, her hitting her “wall” and then having her endolphins (yes, I know, was trying to be witty, kids) kick in and so on. I donated money to her cause, she ran the marathon and while she never ran again, she has the marathon notch of honor on her belt. Through the years there was the marathon someone else ran for breast cancer and most recently a marathon for guess what, just a marathon’s sake that a pal of mine ran, go figure. But through it all, even when I started back at the gym a few years ago I never understood the fascination for running and still don’t.

Most of my pals tell me about the sense of accomplishment it gives them, or that they always wanted to do one but never thought they could, blah, blah, blah. And there must be something to it because everyone from Oprah to people who no one ever heard about it all line up across the country several times a year to run like crazy with the other mostly forty-something year olds. I think it’s all part of the new mid-life “review” (as I call it) where you feel as though your body has started to sag and you can no longer do everything you once did physically (without your body being incredibly sore the next day) so you want to prove to yourself and the world that you can still run like the moron you were at fourteen. So good for all of you on your accomplishment.

But running a marathon isn’t going to make you younger or get out of this life thing alive, kids. I think it’s great that you have no more toenails, drank Gatorade from a cup that was handed to you as you careened by a volunteer at seven miles an hour and that you can feel good about yourself. But if you think it makes you or your breasts (insert pecs for men or ass for either sex) look like they did when you were a teen, you’re mistaken. Yes, good for you that you ticked off something else on your “bucket list” we’re all sufficiently impressed.

I remember recently being at the gym and getting on the treadmill. After walking for the “warm-up” I decided that perhaps I would try this running thing that everyone is so crazy about. I imagined me shopping for my marathon outfit and a number on my chest (that didn’t involve an orange jumpsuit from prison) as I jogged along. I thought I was doing great. I looked around at the people just walking on the treadmills, “Suckers” I thought to myself as I kept my jaunty pace trying to ignore Fox News on the televisions. I saw the serious runners who were so gaunt they looked as though they had just come from the concentration camps to the gym. I could envision myself getting “gay thin” at last! I would be the envy of everyone as I exclaimed, “I don’t get it, my pants just all seem to fall off of me, I don’t know why they don’t make more 28 inch waist pants anymore” as I batted my eyes in mock surprise.  Then it started, my left knee started to have a small pain in it. Could it be from the jogging or just that old dance injury? I kept my pace, jogging through the pain – after all, doesn’t everyone say, “No pain, no gain?” I kept my mind off the knee pain by thinking of people doing an intervention because they were afraid I was getting too thin. As I pumped my arms as I ran I felt tightness in the left arm. Was it a heart attack as any Jew thinks of first or was it simply that I hadn’t held my arms in this position in so long that it was like when you carried a bunch of books in high school for a long time and then set them down and felt as though you would never be able to straighten your arms again? Why didn’t the sweat in the crook of my elbow act like some oil for this Tin Man? I decided to take it down a few notches, then I decided it was better to just go ahead and walk for a minute before I started jogging again, after all, it had been years since I’d run and I needed to work up to it, right? When I looked down to slow the treadmill I was amazed at what I saw, I had been running or jogging or whatever the hell you want to call it for exactly a minute and a half! That’s right, all of those thoughts, dreams, pains and eventual submission to walking happened in under two minutes.

I looked at the people just walking and as I held tightly onto the railing acting as if I was getting my heart rate and not desperately holding on for support. I made faces to the other walkers that said, “Look at those morons running? Do you get it cause I don’t! We’re the sane ones people! Good for us!” And as I looked around at the “walkers” it was clear to me that once again I was in the back of the pack with the fat kids, just walking when the fit kids were running. And somehow it didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t care that I was in the back of the pack, I didn’t care that there were people killing themselves to get to “pace” to run a marathon. I realized that it was okay to not like running, to not feel as though I had to run a marathon or not have any interest in it at all. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Am I the only forty-something year old who does NOT want to run a marathon?” – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 6 years ago from Las Vegas

      New Knowledge - WOW! You couldn't have made me feel any better about this whole marathon thing! Love all those reasons and you for letting me know. Thanks!

    • profile image

      New knowledge 6 years ago

      There are more than a few good reasons not to do marathons:

      1. Exercising for more than 40 mins at a times increases stress hormones (cortisol) and lowers your immune system.

      2. Your body thinks it's undergoing starvation and lowers its metabolism. So the next time you do it, you end up storing more fat.

      3. Not to mention, your muscles get atrophied as the body uses it for fuel (along with the fat yes), so you now have less muscle and less calorie-burning ability. Every bit of muscle you have uses up calories just to feed the muscle and keep it alive when it's AT REST.

      4. Free radicals are released in the body during exercise - these are one of the causes of aging. Marathons make you age faster. Not to mention, the amount of time you spend exposed to the UV rays.

      5. Human beings were made for fight or flight. There's no evolutionary benefit, no good reason for running marathons other than to stroke your own ego.

      6. You can gain that same sense of accomplishment by learning a new SKILL as an adult. Never thought you could ski? Learn basic adult gymnastics? Most endurance athletes have terrible bodies with little muscle tone (unless they're really good about load-bearing exercise/weight-training too). Compare this with for example, dancers and acrobats who have all-round fitness and the most ripped bodies. You don't see them pounding the pavement, damaging their joints and enduring cardiac stress for no good reason, do you?

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 7 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you all for these wonderful comments. I have to say North Wind, you win the prize with seeing the man in the street screaming at himself. I have no doubt that would be should I ever take it to try and train or enter a marathon or even start running!!!

    • rose56 profile image

      rose56 7 years ago

      I am impressed by people that can run a marathon. I thinks its great. I wish I was in that good shape to be able to do that. Good Hub.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 7 years ago

      I want to be fit not broken!!

      I did run a tiny 6K one time and came in last!! I won a brand-new pair of Adidas for being the best sport!! Actually, all the officials who waited for me deserved the accolades!!

      No marathon for me!! Although I am hiking Half Dome this summer!!

      Blessings, Earth Angel!!

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 7 years ago from The World (for now)

      I identify with you. This has always been a puzzle to me. I try to see and think like them but I just do not get it! One time I saw this man running, he had to be in his mid-forties and obviously he was biting off more than he could chew. He stopped and started screaming right there in the middle of the road. After he screamed and drivers stopped in alarm, he just started back running like nothing had happened. I mean if you feel like your heart is going to explode,shouldn't you stop?

      Great hub!

    • profile image

      Amber 7 years ago

      OK, I like to run (well, walk & jog, I'm too fat to actually run). I like it because, equipmentwise, it requires nothing really but decent shoes. No fancy balls, kettle bells, ropes, mats, blocks, whatever. You really don't have to buy (and store) anything that you wouldn't normally have around the house (you just have to buy higher quality). That said (and as I said on FB), I have no desire whatsoever to run a marathon, or for that matter even a 10K. I did the Run for the Zoo 5K 'fitness walk/run' this year for the first time ever and it was a blast, but really that's as energetic as I get when fiber isn't involved. :)

    • SEO IT! profile image

      Karla Whitmore 7 years ago from Tucson, AZ

      I am so guilty. I'm not 40 YET, but yes, I do wish I could train to run a marathon. That was actually my intention when I started my cardio interval routine several weeks ago, but alas, my poor knee...

      Personally, I think running a marathon at 40 plus is about proving something to one's self: "I've still got it. In fact, I am doing things I didn't do when I was YOUNGER!" Hey, it's better than ruining your credit with a fancy sports car, I suppose. ;) .

      However, there's nothing wrong with being a walker, whether you're 20 something or coming up on 50 years of age.

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 7 years ago from Virginia

      I'll be turning 42 on the 22nd of July and do not have any desire whatsoever to exercise other than walking but I walk, bend and lift alot at work.