Pheidippides’ Paradox

I ran a full marathon race. I didn’t expect a two-year break, but this was my 44th full marathon race. As my groin pain had not fully healed, I was anxious that I would suffer pain during the race and would end up having to retire. The result fell far short of my personal best, but I was able to finish the race in under four hours. You would feel so strange because people who complete full marathons are tough in common sense, but I saw my doctor after the race as a patient and told him that I still feel weird in my right leg and worried over it. Great, it’s a luxurious worry.

The photos in the article show an amateur race I happened to come across when I visited Bayonne, France, in 2018. Marathons are probably all the rage over the world. And yet, is marathon running really good for our health? I’m completely worn out after the race. The heart rate remains high for a long time. Also, I don’t really want to force artificially concentrated energy gel into my stomach during the race as a way of preventing energy depletion. Moreover, I frequently suffer from dehydration, with numbness in my limbs. The first half is always fun with the secretion of serotonin and I can afford to enjoy the view, but the last 10km is just a real hardship. Of course, I try to run with negative splits, though. For amateur runners, two hours of exercise is appropriate, and I sincerely hope that races for the distance covered in two hours become a standard. Why don’t you just run a half marathon only, you might ask. However as long as the full marathon exists, you would want to run it, wouldn’t you?

The full marathon is 40km in the first place because of an ancient Greek story about a soldier called Pheidippides who ran from the battlefield on Marathon Hill to Athens to report on the battle. It was never set with the athlete’s physical condition in mind, but should we consider ourselves lucky to be able to synchronize with ancient history? Even 40km is a long distance, but it is said that the distance for the London 1908 Olympic marathon changed to 42.195km after Princess Alexandra of England requested that the start is in the palace gardens so that it could be seen from the castle windows and the finish be in front of the box seats in the stadium. Of course, even 2km is extra and not a nice round number, but that is not the point, the last 195m is the longest 195m in the world.

I used to be fine, even going on an overseas business trip the day after a full marathon, but this time I’m still tired and I unintentionally complained a lot. Yes, I love marathons.

I am always very grateful to the volunteer staff who support the marathon.