I’m training for a marathon I’ve decided not to run.
When I first came out here to Chile, I had no intentions of running any races here, instead preparing to train smarter and better so I would be stronger than ever when I returned to England. But, as I’ve already discussed here, I soon realised I needed a goal and a structured training plan if I was going to make any real progress.
So, I went online, picked the final marathon of the year in Chile and made myself a plan, which I have been following ever since. But I never signed up to that marathon, because I’ve been having an internal debate for the past 3 weeks about the race and how the preparation for it will affect the rest of my time here in Santiago.
It’s not a question of being prepared – the race itself is not for 7 weeks, and since the plan had me run 18 miles last week (which was absolutely fine, recap here) and more 20-22 mile runs in the next few weeks, I don’t think I’m short on time to make sure I’m ready. I also would absolutely love to run another race, with my experience at the Viña del Mar half-marathon a couple of weeks ago really underlining the benefits of running as a community.
However, the more I read up on the race, the more I talk to people who have run it, the less I feel like I should run it, and that I would enjoy the experience. It’s run entirely on one countryside road which snakes along the Pacific coast, with some killer hills at the end. The hills don’t particularly bother me, but the boredom does – especially because it doesn’t pass through towns or anywhere with a population large enough to draw a crowd.
This boredom would be intensified by the small size of the race – last year only 300 people ran the marathon. 300. I know that I would end up running the majority of the race absolutely alone, and honestly? I’ve done that, I know what that’s like, I’d like big crowds for my next marathon!
(For anyone who doesn’t know, although I’ve never competed in an organised marathon race, I have run 26.2 miles alone as a challenge around the streets of Cambridge. No supporters, no other runners, just me, myself and my thoughts)
Because of the small size of the race, the organisers don’t even bother to close the road – which would mean cars (with Chilean drivers…) whipping past me continuously. Nothing makes me feel slower than being alone and struggling on an empty road when a car appears barrelling easily out of nowhere, overtaking me and disappearing off into the distance. I just can’t imagine myself enjoying the experience!
I also had a surprise a week ago, when one of my friends in England said that he wanted to come out and visit me for two weeks. I’m super excited because I can’t wait to see him again, spend time with him and most importantly show him around this beautiful country I’ve been calling home for the past few months.
It would be manageable to train when he is around, but maybe not enjoyable. I don’t want to be beholden to a running schedule when he’s here as I know we’ll be out a lot, walking around and sight-seeing, travelling to different parts of the country and a lot of hiking. He runs too, so we will probably go out for some training together, but I don’t want to feel like it’s something I HAVE to do.
Since I was pretty sure I didn’t want to run the marathon, this concreted the decision for me. He would have completely understood if I had to go out and train for something I was really passionate about, but every time I thought of running this marathon I was just filled with dread. It relates back to what I wrote about last week – that it really is the environment you are in that determines the enjoyment of exercise. I can just tell that the running environment in that race really wouldn’t suit me.
However, it doesn’t mean that I am giving up on marathon running – not in the slightest. I used my motivation to sign myself properly up to the Barcelona Marathon which will take place on March 11th 2018. I am starting a new job in Barcelona in January, so will be moving from Chile over there after I spend Christmas with my family (but not in England, in France. So confusing).
It will be a huge race (with over 5000 people already signed up!) and there will be loads of crowds lining the streets for what I’m sure will be a special day. My sister has also booked flights out to come and see me for that weekend, so I will have a friendly face popping up out of the crowd to cheer me on! It’s just the sort of marathon, just the sort of environment, I want to be spending my money on.
Does this mean I have given up on my marathon-running dreams here in Chile though? Yes and no.
There is no way I will be running a “proper” marathon here, as there are no other ones I could sign up for – there is a bit of a dearth in road marathons between the beginning of November and the time I go home. There are trail runs down south, but they cost a lot of money to get to and even more to enter.
However, I have been considering doing a marathon-length training run after my friend goes back home. I would run it around Santiago, my home town, like I ran my previous 26.2 around the streets of Cambridge. I wouldn’t try for a certain time, just enjoying the run as a run, knowing that it would not be the same with crowds and atmosphere and people giving me support (both emotionally and in terms of sustenance). I think it would be a great way to round out my time here!
Have you ever run 26.2 mile just for “fun”, not for an official race? Or do you think that’s absolutely crazy?
Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear your opinions on my mad idea! Hope you are having a great week 😊