7 reasons not to run marathons – and a saner way to keep fit

By Simon Henry @simlington

A friend’s then boyfriend used to run double marathons.

I was at their house one Saturday morning having a cuppa after a heavy night’s drinking.
Just as he was putting his trainers on before his 20-mile training run, my friend croaked:
‘Hang on a minute. Will you get me some cigs on your way back?’ and handed him £10.
He did, too – 20 Silk Cut Ultra. (She suffered from asthma and she claimed these light ciggies made her suffocate less than other brands.)

Why do you need to know this? You don’t – but it’s the only anecdote I can remember about long-distance running.

As a footnote to this heartwarming scene, they split up soon after this.
Something to do with ‘lifestyle differences’, I think.
Either that, or he went out for a training run another Saturday morning – and just kept running. Probably with her £10 in his shorts pocket.

What lessons can we learn from this anecdote?
Six or seven – depending on whether you count 3a and 3b (below) as one or two reasons.

Six or seven reasons not to run marathons

Brian the Snail in more relaxed surroundings with his roundabout friends

Brian the Snail in more relaxed surroundings with his roundabout friends

1. You have to put up with Competitive Silliness from people like Lloyd Scott who took 27 days to complete the 2012 London Marathon by crawling around the course as Brian the Snail from the Magic Roundabout. I hope he had some kneepads.

2. It’s frankly exhausting. Someone always dies or has a heart attack or stroke. And anyone who manages to finish feels like death for days afterwards.

3a. You end up showing off. You can’t help it. If you finish a marathon, you become a Marathon Bore. You just do. ‘Oh. Nineteen miles was the worst. Christ it was bad. I felt like my lungs were on fire,’ you say – even if the conversation is about The Great British Bake-Off.

3b. And you expect people to be interested in the apparently infinite ways you find to describe the same thing – viz: ‘It’s really quite hard to run 26 miles and involves a fair bit of physical discomfort.’

4. There’s a good chance you’ll get addicted to the ‘buzz’ of running marathons, and then ‘normal’ marathons won’t be enough. You’ll then end up doing extreme ones – like the dreaded Arizona Desert Triple Marathon in which competitors are blindfolded, not allowed to wear sun lotion, have a baby hippo strapped to their back, and – worst of all – aren’t allowed to wear their special runner’s watch showing their ‘split times’.

Just because time is a dull subject  doesn't mean you can't illustrate it artistically

Just because time is a dull subject doesn’t mean you can’t illustrate it artistically

5. You start being obsessed with Time. It’s no coincidence the London Marathon goes through Greenwich, the birthplace of time. Time is important, but it’s a really
boring conversational topic for anyone who doesn’t run marathons. Philomena Cunk from Charlie Brooker’s telly show is the only person who can make the subject of Time funny. Watch the clip here (4 mins 20 secs).

6. You complain bitterly about your running aches and pains. If I put my finger in a flame and then complained about getting burned you’d rightly call me something with four letters.

If you still want to keep fit, why don’t you just get off your arse – and do what humans are good at?


Here’s how you can make yourself do it every single day.
Download a pedometer to your phone. I’ve got the Pedometer++ which doesn’t even waste my iPhone battery.

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking

A pedometer can encourage you to get off your fat arse and do some walking

You tell it how many steps you want to do each day – and it shows you on a bar graph if you’ve done them.
Green is good. Red is bad. Orange is quite bad or quite good. You would be amazed at how effective this is.

I also do the Three Peaks in Yorkshire quite regularly but don’t want to make too much of a deal about that because:
1. It’s basically a marathon in length
2. I never stop talking about it and therefore
3. It kind of undermines many of my points above.

You can follow me @simlington on Twitter.
Lots of people are enjoying my posts about modern office life – especially:

The A-Z of office jargon
my Defence of the three-letter acronym and
Verbal tics, cliches and catchphrases.

And you can get my posts sent directly to your inbox too. Isn’t that good?

Copyright 2014 Simon Henry @simlington


4 thoughts on “7 reasons not to run marathons – and a saner way to keep fit

  1. Pingback: Best short jokes and one-liners ever – smile, laugh and giggle | Smile, laugh, giggle, wet yourself

  2. Pingback: Be a sport. Cricket’s 8 lessons for success in the modern office | Smile, laugh, giggle, wet yourself

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