Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Running--A Rant

This post has been building up inside of me for a while now, and I haven't written it yet because I just haven't been sure where to start or just exactly what my bottom line was. But I'm just going to type until I feel better, so bare with me.

Like millions of other people across America, I watched The Biggest Loser on Tuesday night. It was the marathon episode. I've been an on and off watcher of the Biggest Loser for the past few seasons, but I've never really paid attention to the marathon episodes before. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to watching it this time around (now that I'm an expert on the subject and all. Ha.)  I was really surprised by a few things. First, they only gave the contestants 30 days to train for the marathon. What?? OK, whatever, I guess they were just in fantastic shape. Second, Ada was the only one who really trained for the damn thing. She had an awesome time, too, much better than I could pull off if I were to try to run one anytime soon. Elizabeth made a comment that she had only run 8 miles before the marathon. Again, WHAT? That's just stupid! And her time reflected it, too...7.5 hours to complete! Even I could do better than that, probably today. But Elizabeth sucks anyway and I sure do hope that none of you vote for her! Third, Ada lost the least amount of weight. Even Sucky Elizabeth lost more weight than she did!! Way unfair.

I've read a few blogs and message boards rehashing the whole Biggest Loser Marathon subject over the last few days. Some people brought up some great points, other people just made me angry. One blogger pointed out something that had a pretty heavy impact on me:  Marathon Training Does Not Equal Weight Loss.  I should have the word DUH tattooed on my forehead for being blown away by this little statement.  I mean, like I said in an earlier post, I've basically proven that to myself already while training for my half.  Now that the weight is finally coming off of me, I have to admit that I am only running a fraction of the distance that I was when I was training.  I'm losing weight because I have cut my calorie consumption drastically, something that (especially during my last 6 weeks or so of training) would not have been the wisest thing for me to do while training.  Granted, I totally admit that I could have made major improvements with my diet, but even under the best of circumstances I don't think I would have lost much weight. In fact, as I seem to be reading over and over and over again, most people who train for marathons actually GAIN WEIGHT during training.  Its really not a surprise when you think of all the muscle you put on (I know I did) and all the calories you have to consume to help your body recover.

So where does this leave me now, I'm wondering?? There's no way that I'm going to be down to my goal weight by the time I would need to start training for the RnR marathon in November. I still have 74 pounds left to go! Do I put the weight loss aside while training or do I try to do both or do I just weight until I reach goal weight before I try to take on a marathon?? I don't know, and I guess I don't have to decide right now, but it bothers me not to have a plan set in motion either way. I do know that I totally lost sight of the weight loss aspect until I ran my half. I got consumed with running (no regrets) and forgot my original goal for awhile. I don't know if I should do that again.

And so that gets me thinking why do I even want to run a stupid marathon in the first place? I've seen a lot of blogs and online posts lately from "real runners" who I seem to have nothing in common with. First of all, these people dedicate their lives to running and making a PR. Good for them. Second, they all have really expensive equipment that I can't even fathom spending the money on. Fine. Third, a lot of them seem to have a really bad attitude towards people like me!! Fake runners, I suppose. I've seen a lot of people advocating 5 hour time limits for marathons saying that slow runners clog up the streets and cost the city too much money and dumb down the greatness of the marathon! WHAT?? Back to that in a minute, but first I will repeat my original question.

Why do I want to run a marathon?  Well, I'm really not sure. Mostly because I want to accomplish something great and I know that I'm not going to do it with a 5k PR. I'm not a fast runner. I don't enjoy running fast and I'm not good at it. But I've proven to myself that I can go the distance. I know now that I have the ability to set a goal, train for it, and accomplish it...beating back my own personal demons along the way who only want me to fail. Crossing the finish line--hell, crossing the STARTING line-- at my half marathon was a great feeling. One that I want again. Only now I know that I can do a half. The thought of doing another one to improve my time does not interest me as much as the thought of pushing myself to go twice as far. Testing my next distance boundary and conquering it.  I like the feeling of accomplishing something that I once thought impossible. really hurts my feelings to think that some runners would look down on me and my little accomplishments. Some runners would rather that I not be able to participate in the marathon at all because I wouldn't finish within 5 hours and would therefore be somehow dragging down their own accomplishments. Some runners would advise me to stick with distances "more appropriate for me" like a half or a 10k. Apparently the marathon is some sort of holy grail that only the elite should be able to tackle. Apparently letting in the slow runners is simply a way for the city to make more money and it doesn't show "respect for the distance." Apparently running a marathon is just becoming "trendy" making everyone want to do it!!

Okay, so here is what I have to say to these people. Screw you.  SCREW YOU SCREW YOU SCREW YOU. If you think that I will drag your race down if I run a 6 hour marathon, then you might need to work on your own self esteem instead of trying to crush mine. If you think slow runners aren't trying every bit as hard for their 11 minute miles as you are for your 7 minute ones then you are an ignoramus and I feel sorry for you. Speed does not equal effort, you ASS. I ran a 2:50 half marathon so I guess I'm just a joke because a "real runner" should be able to make it in under 2 hours. Well, maybe my 2:50 had something to do with a fact that I'm a 28 year old obese woman who had absolutely no fitness base whatsoever before I started running 6 months prior to the race. I busted my ASS training for that race and I think that my time was pretty amazing!!! And if you can't stand it that I have the same medal hanging on my wall as you do for your finish in 1:45, then I am so sorry for you. And if when I do decide to run a marathon, I am not going to shed one little tear over the fact that you don't think I deserve to be there because I'm not fast enough.  I am going to complete something wonderful and amazing and stick my tongue out at your back as I choke on your dust while you pass me. With a smile on my face. NAH NAH NAH NAH BOO BOO.

With all that being said, I realize that by far and wide, the running community is super supportive. I've never been ridiculed or made to feel like anything less than a hero at either race I've done, despite my slow time.  I've just read some things on some message boards lately that have really affected me, and its my blog so I get to rant when I want to!

If you're still with me, thanks for reading. I still don't know what I'm going to do about the marathon. I guess time will tell--it's still almost a year away. My instinct right now is that I have to make weight loss my number one priority but I don't want to give up my marathon.

I guess I'm just going to have to strive toward balance...whatever that is.


  1. Amen, Jennifer!! I am just like you and ran a 2:50 half marathon..I predict it will take me close to 6 hours to finish my marathon and you know what?? I DON'T CARE!! I say screw you, too, to all those jerks out there who think you have to be fast to be a runner.

    As for the whole losing weight vs. running a marathon issue, I say if losing some more weight is your biggest goal right now then you should focus on that. As you stated, there is no way you should try and lose weight and train for a marathon at the same time. Losing weight will only make your running better anyway and a marathon will always be there to run!

    Whatever you decided you are definitely an inspiration..look how far you have come already!! :)

  2. Here's to the slow runners! My recent half was 3 hours 22!

  3. I saw something worse than screw you. Most 'real runners' that I know are a bunch of wackos anyway so who gives a crap what they think. Do what you need to do to make you happy and get healthy. You don't need their approval, you have already come farther, figuratively speaking, than they will ever go. Do your thing. F' em.

    Polar's Mom
    PS- and if Ada doesn't get the vote, I'm moving to Australia.

  4. Good rant...

    Do what your heart tells you to do. I think you are doing an amazing job...

  5. I think you can do both - lose weight and do the marathon. First, you don't need to start training for it now since it's a year away. Second, most people over estimate what they need to eat after a run to recover. I say just watch what you eat but eat enough, and only enough to recover from your run and you will be fine. While I did not lose weight training for my half, I did not gain either. Good luck!

  6. Hmmmm. THis is a fantastic blog. I do have to say really quickly that I lost 55 lbs in 6 months while I was training but that was because I ate a TON... but I ate a lot of good stuff. I also cross trained the crap out of myself and did a lot of yoga. I think you can do both.

    Also, I hate the marathon episodes on the biggest loser. It's stupid and they need to train them so they don't kill themselves.

    Also... AMEN FOR SLOW RUNNERS! I mean, why the hell do it if you don't like it and really, who likes to run FAST. Blah. ha ha