A good friend of mine has been including me on his e-mail listserv for a running group he’s assembled. That means every week I get a handful of invitations to run anywhere from four to twenty miles with a group of a half dozen runners of varying ability. To this date, I’ve yet to take him up on his offer. Why?
- I prefer running alone.
- I enjoy running without a goal.
- After running a marathon years ago, I’ve sworn off long distances and the training that accompanies it.
Forgive me for being so proud, but I’m still a little astonished at my marathon accomplishment. But looking back on it, I really shouldn’t be. From an early age, genetics have given me a runner’s physique, and ever since college, I’ve increasingly become introverted. The solitary nature of running is a great fit with my personality. And running a marathon has become a wonderful addition to my conversation arsenal for parties and get-togethers. Whenever people ask me if I’m running another one, I quote the episode of Seinfeld where he defiantly declares, all Superman-like, “I choose not to run.”
And it’s true. I choose not to run – at least no more than ten miles at one time. I know many people find marathons addictive, but not me. During my training, I saw the ugly side of 6 a.m. on far too many Saturdays. I dropped twenty pounds that I didn’t really have to lose. And I lost both of my big toenails which took almost six months to grow back ingrown, painful, and well . . . not pretty. Nope. I’m done. I can cross “run a marathon” off my Life List. If I really had a Life List. But let’s not get technical.
By running those 26 (.2!) miles, I did something that only about one-tenth of one percent of the population has done – or so says my condescending training guide, Marathon: You can do it! That sweat-soaked manual also says that the average age of marathon runners is about thirty eight, which also means I participated in a largely adult-like athletic activity – a slightly disorienting realization for this reluctant grown-up.