Are newbie runners in marathons REALLY that big of a problem?

Are newbie runners in marathons REALLY that big of a problem?

I was surfing around, seeing if I can soak up any running advice or motivation, when I ran across A) this helpful list of "Top Ten Marathon Newbie Mistakes."  I want to add my own comments to the hydration point--yes, it's good to be hydrated. But for me, I think I run the risk of being OVERhydrated. I've done it before during even short runs on the treadmill. I get thirsty fast, because breathing through my mouth dries it out fast. So I drink more, but the sloshing sound in my stomach makes it rather uncomfortable, and makes me stop running sooner. I once used chapstick to alleviate the feeling of dryness--so I should remember to bring that along with me to the exercise room tonight.

So, I'm starting to wonder if my thought of buying a Camelback is a bad idea. It's extra weight with water I don't really need. There are water stops like every two miles, and surely I can train to go that long without water or Gatorade. I'll wait and see how training goes before I decide.

Then, I ran across this article about newbies ruining someone's precious marathon experiences. Yes, I do think there are more and more people signing up for marathons lately--I think that's why the Chicago Marathon sold out in only 6 days, when the previous record, set last year, was 31 days. (glad I joined up just in time!) I think the can-do and "just do it" culture is helping people realize that they CAN reach their goals. The times may not be the best, but the distance can be done in the time allotted.

I think this empowerment is helping. There is an increased focus on general fitness, and for some, their motivation comes from completing races. Like the Chicago Marathon. Some people want to do it as a bucket list item. I'm one of them. I want to prove to myself that I can run. And running is kind of a "fuck you," to my dad, to depression, to prove to them that I can't be held back. I'm going to try, and I'm going to make it one of these days. So, it might as well be this year.

There's a myriad of reasons why people want to run marathons. It's not left for the serious runners anymore, as the poor, poor article writer pointed out. Perhaps we newbies aren't "good enough" for your marathons. No, we haven't been training for years like you. But we have to start somewhere. No, we're not as dedicated as you, but we have to find our own motivations. No, we're not as fast as you, but we will finish.

So, suck it up, experienced runners. You guys are at the head of the line anyway, sorted by pace. Some of you are even in special start corrals. The rest of us newbies are wayyyy in the back, toward where the finish line is,  meaning we have to cross greater distances in order to finish the marathon. We're not in your way, and we finish well after you--so why would that be a problem for you?

If it is a problem--go ahead and take up bridge as you threatened. Keep in mind that us newbies will eventually be experienced runners. And eventually, us experienced runners will want to join you at bridge. What then? Will you protest that we're not experienced bridge players?

Even if you don't welcome us, we welcome you. We look to you for inspiration and motivation, we will wish you best of luck, endurance, and swift feet. See you on October 7th.

(And as always, donations are welcome. I'm running for PAWS Chicago, and my donation page is here:

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    If people don't want slower athletes in their race, they should stick to the Boston Marathon. They have firm minimum times that you have to have made in a previous certified race, and now they have started letting the fastest people register first. The marathon is an endurance event, and the people who can make it to the finish line before closing time are quite impressive to those of us who can't imagine that kind of distance without at least a bicycle.

  • That's why I like the Chicago Marathon--it's an egalitarian marathon. It's flat, which helps newbies, and they don't have any minimum times, yet. I have no desire to run the Boston, so those experienced runners are safe from my slowpoke abilities...

  • It takes a whole lot of people to cover the prize money for that one barefoot foreign guy who finishes two hours ahead of the rest of the pack...

    Seriously, only a handful of people have a shot at winning and only one man and one woman will. For nearly everyone else, it's a personal quest. Who is to judge the motive and ability of anyone else? You registered and you paid, so go out and make the best of it for YOU.

    Good luck with your training and the race. And if you get discouraged, there's always bicycling. No one cares who else participates in a century ride just as long as there is a slice of pie left at the rest stop!

  • In reply to Brent Cohrs:

    That is a very good point--us newbie runners *are* covering that prize money that we have no chance at winning--and nor do we want to. As you said, it is totally a personal quest.

    And thanks for the luck! I am going to be training for Bike the Drive and the 4 Star Neighborhood Tour (the 35 mile option)--maybe I'll see you there?

    Once I get the marathon off my bucket list, I think my next goal will be a century ride. That can be my next bucket list item! (and pie sounds good. If there's pumpkin, cherry, or apple streusel, I'll be there.)

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    I love how you brought up that faster runners are role models and help slower/newer runners set goals. If anything the surge in running races has helped the sport. I ran cross country many moons ago, so I wouldn't call myself a newbie, but I also have taken years off in between committed running cycles. I'm slow, I always have been and always will be. I do not see how my slowness hurts the sport or the faster runners. I start at the back of the race and I finish in the middle or just slightly further back. Wellness is the key and a true athlete should want to help everyone embrace living a more balanced healthier lifestyle. Not to mention professionals runners are making tons of cash of new runners through books sales, merchandise endorsements and magazine articles. The newbies are where the money is at.

  • Turtle runners unite!

    I agree completely with your statement, the newbies are where the money is at, and us newbies are subsidizing the races for the more serious runners. If there weren't so many people participating in the Chicago Marathon, I wonder if the entry fee would be much higher?

    The good thing is that most experienced runners are quite welcoming of newbies--at least in my experience so far. They are encouraging and helpful, and help us to figure out how to reach our goals. There's just a few jerks who have a sense of elitism. The same goes for the biking community.

  • Holly, you AND the faster runners will be fine. I ran Chicago in 2009 having previously run nothing longer than a 10K, and I assure you I never saw the faster runners. I have no idea why they get worked up about it. By the way, I also ran for PAWS- great cause!

  • In reply to annekip63:

    Thank you so much, Anne, for your encouragement! The fact you completed the marathon with only a 10K under your belt is definitely encouraging for this turtle and newbie.

    Go, Team PAWS!

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