So what is a marathon anyway?

Since I’ve had a mental break and signed up for a Marathon, I’ve been thinking about what that word really means. I’ve heard the word thrown around so many times by people who clearly are not talking about the 26.2 slog that I will endure May 1.

So I went to the most factual place I could think of:  Google.

According to, a marathon is a foot race over a course measuring 26 miles, any long-distance race, or any contest, event, or the like, of great, or greater than normal length or duration, or requiring exceptional endurance.  

I can agree with that. Certainly, a marathon is when you run 26.2 miles. And I can definitely agree that running 26 miles is greater than the normal length a regular person would run in one go. And….if my recent training runs are any indication, a marathon does require exceptional endurance.

unnamed-3But what about the other uses of the word “marathon?” I’m thinking of the prevalent memes going around Social Media. For example, (see left) which is clearly a play on the bumper stickers runners place on their cars after tackling the traditional long race distances. And while I’m sure that it takes exceptional endurance to eat 26 Oreos in one sitting, I’m not sure 13 hours of watching Netflix takes that much effort. Though, one can argue that it is greater than the normal length of duration someone would normally watch Netflix.

I remember when someone said they were doing a “marathon” and it meant something very arduous and, when it came to running, where I’ve heard the word most used, was prestigious. Now, people throw the word around all the time. You have to clarify what kind of marathon you are talking about. Running, eating, grading, sleeping – NETFLIX?  Will this eventually diminish the prestige of the word when runners use it outside of our immediate community? When I say “I’m doing a Marathon,” will people know automatically that means I’ll be running? Or will they think that maybe I do plan to waste a day binge watching a TV show?

I once heard someone say that anyone can run a marathon. Sure. I guess that’s true. However, it takes a special kind of person to commit to putting themselves through all of the training, pain, suffering and recovery. NOT everybody can do that. Maybe I’m just driven by a purpose to do something big, to be part of a group that has worked hard and overcome obstacles. Maybe I want to put one of those obnoxious stickers on my car because I will have done something that many people won’t dream to do.

image009So you can have your Netflix Marathons, and your record of how many Oreos you ate in one sitting. I’ll take the 26.2 miles I will struggle through and the personal journey I’ve gone on any day. I’ll take MY Marathon.


About AlyL

A wandering spirit drawn to running, music, theater, and those that give life to others. Functioning in a life that's next to normal.
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