Defending the Marathon – A Response to Daniel Engber of Slate

Marathon Finish
Kelrick and I at the Seattle Marathon finish line with our hard won medals.

Daniel Engber is a Slate columnist.  He has a friend who decided to run the New York Marathon.  In response to this, Daniel had the journalistic equivalent of a full-toddler-tantrum-meltdown (or an ingenious idea for clickbait) which he then published under the title “Don’t Run a Marathon, You have better things to do.” Let’s take a look, shall we:

Have we devised any greater waste of time and energy than the running of the marathon? I’m asking for a friend. This friend will soon be training for the New York City Marathon, and he’ll be going at it for a span of 20 weeks. When he’s finished all his workouts, iced his injuries and prepped his body for the brutal course, he’ll be ready to achieve a goal that has no meaning in itself and offers benefits to no one.

Bitter, party of one…your table is ready.

So my first question is  – why are you asking for this friend? This friend has made up his mind to take on this challenge and, one might assume, decided that it has meaning and benefit to him. Daniel doesn’t even mention that his friend asked him if he wanted to train with him, or that he suggested that people who do marathons are better than those who don’t (which is total, unadulterated bullshit and would be deserving of scorn.) So basically from what I’m reading, his friend told him “I’m excited about this personal goal I’ve set for myself!” and Daniel responded “Let me use my platform as a journalist to demean you, and everyone else who chooses this goal, in front of as many people as possible.”

Some will read this as a #slatepitch, and say it’s just a way for me to troll for clicks, as if calling runners foolish were like saying pie is overrated or that constellations suck. But the logic goes the other way: It’s the runners who have gone against the grain; it’s the runners who have tried to make a virtue of their quirky point of view; it’s the runners who demand attention for all the time they spend on worthless locomotion; it’s the runners who are trolling all the rest of us. The marathon must be the biggest #slatepitch of all time.

Ah, the old “I’m not a bully for bullying you about your personal choices, you’re a bully for making personal choices” argument. The only people who buy this argument are internet trolls. Honestly, I hope that this is #slatepitch because otherwise it’s just super shitty.

Consider all the other things we could accomplish in those hours spent in training.Half a million Americans could speak a little Arabic. Half a million Americans could learn computer programming, maybe well enough to start a new career. Half a million Americans could devote themselves to helping out in soup kitchens, or fortifying dikes, or memorizing sonnets, or playing Google Image Labeler. Half a million Americans could do something truly beneficial for themselves or for their neighbors or for the country as a whole.

Out of curiosity Daniel – do you speak Arabic? Do you know computer programming well enough to start a new career? Where do you volunteer? What dikes do you fortify? What sonnets have you memorized?  And if you do – why do you assume that the ways you choose to spend your time are the ways that everyone should spend their time? Can you make chainmaille? Do you speak every language? Do you play the tuba?

Let’s recognize that we don’t know that runners aren’t doing these things. Then let’s recognize that this argument is sheer, unadulterated slippery slope bullshit. Because in the time that Daniel spent memorizing sonnets, he could have volunteered at a food bank, how dare he be so selfish with his time? We each get to choose what to do with our bodies and our time and the idea that Daniel – who spent time writing this piece of drivel – should be the arbiter of how we spend that time is absolutely laughable.

I hope it’s not that people run in marathons to improve their health. All the evidence goes the other way..

Even if this were true, it’s a healthist argument.  The idea that we have some obligation to do things that are “healthiest” by the definition of the person who has appointed themselves the judge of such things is nothing but another dangerously slippery slope, often used by bullies as a tool to bully people whose behaviors (or body sizes) they don’t like. Health is not an obligation, a barometer of worthiness, entirely within our control, or guaranteed under any circumstances.  Unless you are excited about having someone else tell you what you are and are not allowed to do with your body, you should probably take a pass on doing it to others.

The sport isn’t merely dangerous; it’s extravagant. It costs more than $250 just to enter the New York City Marathon and to have the chance to chafe your nipples alongside 50,000 other people. Meanwhile, humanity’s oldest form of exercise has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry in footwear.

Dude, trust me, I get not getting it. I get asking yourself -bleeding nipples?  The fuck are you doing? (Though if the nipples are freaking him out, let’s not tell him about the toenails, or where we put the Vaseline…) What I don’t get is thinking that your not getting it creates a solid platform from which to dole out advice and judgment.

This is actually the start of a good argument, but then it goes sideways. Accessibility is a major problem, but I don’t think that the answer is to end the sport of running. Nobody is obligated to participate in athletics of any kind, but athletics should be as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to participate.

I like companies like Mainly Marathons that are not only affordable, but also highly inclusive of people of different speeds. There should be clothing and shoe options that are affordable.  And not just for running, but for any movement options that people might want to be involved in. That includes not just physical accessibility (though that’s obviously really important) but also psychological accessibility.  People should be assured that they can participate in movement without shame, stigma, bullying, or harassment.

I get the feeling that marathoners think of themselves as gritty, motivated types, who would rather train and get things done than sit around watching videos on Facebook. Indeed, they’ll often note the fact of their accomplishment (we might think of this as “showing off”) on social media.

Here Daniel takes a break from ranting in order to make up things about other people’s self-concept based on the fact that they talk about their accomplishments on social media.  Here again, I’m wondering if Daniel would be ok with them posting to their social media if they were learning a new language, computer programming, fortifying dikes, or memorizing sonnets?

Should we all be writing letters to Daniel to ask permission to choose our hobbies and post about them to our social media? Now, healthism is an actual thing and so if people aren’t clear that running is their hobby and that it doesn’t make them better than anybody else, then that’s a problem.  “I ran a marathon this weekend” is fine.  “I have kids and I still found time to run a marathon, what’s your excuse?”  is healthist bullshit because nobody needs an excuse not to do a marathon, or any type of movement.

For them, the pursuit of running 26 miles may have less to do with any functional reward than merely having gone through training in the first place. It’s an exercise of will, not one of purpose; the marathoner views achievement as a virtue of its own—like climbing Everest because it’s there.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but so the hell what? People are allowed to view their achievement as a virtue – whether they ran a marathon, or knit their first tea cozy (I don’t even know what a tea cozy is, but I want one.) The problem happens when society views it as a better thing than what other people do. If we think it’s more virtuous, or makes people deserving of better treatment, if they train for and complete a marathon than if they are involved in other hobbies, then that’s a problem. Working towards athletic goals is an option (though not an option for everyone for lots of reasons including everything from illness and disability to income and more,) but it is never an obligation or a barometer of worthiness.

It’s telling that this monomania gets rewarded—every single time, with cheering crowds and Facebook likes—despite its lack of substance. (At least Everest has a view!) I guess the form itself excites us: We’re so starved for ways to show self-discipline, and to regiment our time, that any goal will do, even one so imbecilic as the marathon. This only calls attention to the wasted opportunity: If we want to celebrate the act of building up to something hard—if we’re ready to devote ourselves, for at least 100 hours, to regimented training—then we should strive for something better. Instead of spending all that time purely for the sake of having spent it, let’s pursue a goal that has some meaning in itself.

Last call for bitter, party of one – last call – your table is ready, go sit down now Danny. When did Daniel become the judge of what is a worthy pursuit for everyone? Was there a ceremony? Was it nice? Does it involve a cape? A gavel?  Where can I buy my “Daniel Engber is the boss of me” commemorative t-shirt and mug? Nobody is forcing Daniel to do a marathon, or to follow the social media of his friends who are doing marathons, so why in the world is he whipped up into such a  frenzy about the people who are? How is this affecting his life in any way?

That’s the spirit of the Anti-Marathon, introduced this week at Slate. We’re hoping to reclaim the idea of working hard, so the energy that goes into running marathons can be put to better and more lasting use.

The original article (which you can read in its entirely here) has a link to the ‘Anti-Marathon” program which includes an invitation to pay to join Slate Plus for extra content.  I will say that the notion that you can master swing dancing in 22 weeks gave me a much needed laugh after all this mess.  I will also point out that it’s not an “anti-marathon” as much as it is a “parallel marathon” doing the same things that marathoners do, but for hobbies other than running (and, ostensibly, more acceptable to Daniel.)  Let’s also be clear that knowing how to swing dance (as I do) is no better than completing a marathon (which I have.)

At this point you may be asking “Why is this woman, who was so slow at her marathon that she and her Best Friend finished in a dark alley, so concerned about defending the marathon?”  Clearly, it’s not like marathoners are an oppressed group of people, indeed we are privileged by a healthist society.

This concerns me because as a fat person who has completed a marathon, is now training for an IRONMAN, and hears all kinds of opinions about my choices, I experience Daniel’s type of argument as just another part of the “We’ll Tell You What To Do With Your Body, And Why To Do It” Police. The argument that insists that I have some moral obligation to exercise (which is total bullshit), that the only “good” outcome of exercise is a thin body (also total bullshit,) also insists that I have some moral obligation not move my body “too much” or in the “wrong ways” (again I say, bullshit.)

Obviously there are lots of different types of privilege at work here and doing athletic things as a fat person both offers me “good fatty” privilege, and opens me up to types of harassment and oppression that I wouldn’t experience if I wasn’t involved. I want to keep reminding people that we get to do whatever we want with our bodies, for whatever our reasons are, and that participating in athletics doesn’t make someone better than anyone else – completing a marathon and watching a Netflix marathon are morally equivalent and both totally valid uses of a Sunday.

I wish that people, like Daniel, who want to focus on the physical activity choices of others would confine themselves to trying to dismantle the healthism that’s rampant in our society, and helping to create accessible, inclusive options for the types of physical activity that people might  want to do, instead of judging people for doing, or not doing, it.

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44 thoughts on “Defending the Marathon – A Response to Daniel Engber of Slate

  1. Just …wow. One could argue, as you aptly noted, that Mr. Engber took the amount of time he did to pen such a judgmental article. Slow news day, I’m guessing. What would “memorizing sonnets” do for my life?

    I spent part of yesterday trying to come up with my preferred shade of turquoise, using acrylic paint. I wonder how many dikes I could have fortified in that span of time instead? PS: “fortifying dikes” is now my favourite idea of a pastime – at least he has given me that.

    1. If you memorize really obscure sonnets, you can quote them at dates, to impress them with your ready wit, and ability to make up poetry on the spur of the moment.

      That is, of course, if you are a plagiaristic jackass, or a particular college student, who shall remain nameless.

      Well, he probably graduated by now. Like I care.

  2. This is a fascinating post for me for many reasons. I can’t run anymore due to injury. I once built up to running for 15 minutes over seven months of walking and running and walking again and it felt amazing when I was able to run for the entire time. I felt an amazing sense of achievement and I posted it on social media. I’m sure I could have done something useful with all those minutes (I calculate around 8.75 hours) like fortify a dike – if I could find one. Instead I chose, over seven months, to spend over 8 hours making myself happy. What a selfish bitch am I. I mean, honestly. Because if running a marathon is a waste of time, than why isn’t running for 15 minutes in the morning a waste of time? Because I didn’t do it for my health, I did it just because I felt like it. That’s reason one.

    Reason two. I am a scientist, more specifically a dental histologist with a specialty in non-human primate and fossil teeth. Teeth record all sorts of amazing things while they are forming, like when an animal was weaned and when it was stressed. I can also tell a lot about the evolution of ontogeny – how animals grow from gestation to adulthood from studying their teeth. At the moment, scientists in both the USA and the UK are under extraordinary pressure to only do science that has a tangible outcome that immediately makes the world a better place. Even my grandmother once asked me how I am making the world a better place. I’m not. Unless, of course, you think that people doing things that make them happy and contribute a teeny weeny tiny bit to our overall knowledge of the universe makes the world a better place. That’s not how science works, however. Really, I’m just a selfish bitch who loves to sit at a microscope looking at teeth all day.

    Being human is a wonderful multifaceted experience. We’re really strange creatures who do really strange things, like run marathons and stare at teeth down a microscope. If we weren’t strange, curious, unreasonable creatures who do things for no useful reason whatsoever, we’d still be ape-like animals wandering around the forests and savannahs doing nothing except tying to keep ourselves alive and reproduce. But we’re so much more than that. I don’t need to justify whether I spend my time making the world a better place. I do need to spend my life not doing harm to others. Those are really different things. And berating people for doing things that make them happy is definitely doing harm. Kudos to those who spend their lives as activists, conservationists, seekers of justice, wagers of peace and doers of good. We love you. We are glad you have found your calling. Let us follow ours. Why? Because the world is a better place when it’s filled with happy people doing things they love to do while doing no harm to others.

    1. Once upon a time, I’m quite sure, some quantum physicist was asked how the study of sub-atomic particles could possibly be beneficial to humanity, at large.

      And rocket science! I mean really? All those kids shooting rockets into the air was just a big waste of time and resources! No possible good could come out of that?

      Magnets? They point north and attract metal. What more do you need to know?

      Esoteric studies. Bah! Who needs them? They never ever lead to anything even remotely useful.


      I’m sure that a hundred years from now, something useful will come of what you and others in your field learn from looking at old teeth. Just because we can’t see it now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

      P.S.: I know someone who got her degree in dirt. Literally. It’s a thing. And you know what? She gave me several examples of bad things that happened to people because they did not understand the dirt under their feet. Sure, the circumstances were specific, but they were real, and plenty of them. And had these people thought to check with a dirt specialist, they would have had positive experiences, instead. Interestingly, only one of her stories was actually about farming. My favorite of these stories was about a grassy temporary parking lot for a festival. ALL the cars got sucked into the dirt, and all the tow-trucks got sucked into the dirt, and they had to wait six months for the soil to recover, so they could send in even bigger tow trucks to tow out the tow trucks and original cars. All because nobody thought to check the soil. Fortunately, the festival, itself, was not in the endangered dirt area, so no people got sucked into the dirt. But not a one of them could drive home that night. A whole lot of people had to walk a long… Oh, HEY! I’ll bet they would have been grateful for some marathon training.

      1. A neighbour once did gardening in open toed, non-socked, sandals, and got tetanus. She blamed the foot massage she got a week before.

        1. How in the world would she get tetanus from a foot massage? Was the massage therapist rubbing her foot with rusty nails?

          Yeah, you really should wear good, solid shoes when gardening, and gloves, too. Mind you, if you built up a raised bed, and you KNOW what went into that soil, because you put it there, yourself, you’re probably safe enough to squish your fingers in it. But the dirt around your house could be very problematic, depending on who and what was there, before. People leave things behind when they move, and sometimes, those things wind up buried and they can come up and surprise you, when you’re digging.

          Small things can surprise you without your even being aware of them.

          1. In America, at least, there is a weird belief that is you are not being ‘productive’, whatever that means, you are wasting time and being a bad person.

            In a lot of European countries, they have lots of time off because they recognize that ‘play’ and relaxing are important to being, ultimately, a happy and productive person.

            I was raised with this idea. Whenever I was interested in something, I was often asked either ‘Why would you want to do that?’ in a baffled, dismissive tone, or “How will you make any money with it?”

            It took me years to feel good about doing stuff just because I wanted to.

            I hope you all enjoy your playtime, whatever form it takes.

    2. Awesome comment. I think this is a great sentiment for everyone who is trying to do something ‘useful’ with their life or find ‘meaning’ – humans are who they are because they do a multitude of weird things, and whatever you choose to do as a human is a valid human choice.

    3. The “science must make the world a better place” argument, sounds an awful lot like Pol Pot or the ancient Romans, who placed zero stress on theoretical science, only applied sciences. If it has no practical value, don’t do it, was their motto.

      With Pol Pot, he destroyed all the historical documents and archives, and made everyone turn into “glorious” farmers, since that was all that was needed to live. No we have no history of Cambodia, except what was written about it by travelers.

      I know lots of people find historical and paleontological research fascinating. I enjoy reading about medieval diets and what effect they had on bones. Likewise, how the Incas or Olmecs may have eaten. It’s human nature to look for non-practical things.

      1. Yeah!
        It just astounds me when someone judges another’s work. It may not be useful or be of interest to someone, but that doesn’t give that someone leave to criticize it. Gotta be more useful things to do in life.

        Hey, as Ms. Young wrote, ya never know what knowledge is going to be useful down the line. Hence, discounting it is foolish.

    4. I am dying to know how one becomes a dental histologist! It’s a job I didn’t know existed till now and it fascinates me how people get to the careers they eventually gravitate toward… And well said!

  3. Honestly, as someone who’s marathoned for a few years and has friends who do it as well, I think it’s a valid question to ask. Marathon training sucks up a lot of time and energy, it’s not wrong for people to assess whether or not they want to make that commitment and what they’re giving up doing with that time.

    I know a lot of runners who feel pressured to do a marathon because they feel like that’s what makes you a runner, it displays more of a dedication to the sport than, say, a local 5k and I know quite a few people who now switched to ultra running because marathons have become too pedestrian for them. I think there is definitely a culture in running and in the health/fitness industrial complex that sells the marathon even though it’s not actually right for everyone. Lauren Fleshman actually wrote an article ( about how awesome 5ks are and that people should maybe stop shitting all over them in favor of the marathon.

    1. I know someone who took up running as a serious avocation after she had a gastric bypass. I hope she truly enjoys it and doesn’t just do it out of a terror of gaining weight. If this makes her happy, that’s wonderful, but it doesn’t make her better’n me, who just likes to memorize sonnets. Actually neither one of these pastimes is especially useful. I should be grateful that Judge Daniel gives me a pass. Thank you, Your Honor!

    2. It’s totally reasonable for someone to assess whether or not THEY want to make that commitment and what they are giving up doing with that time. The thing is, that’s not even close to what Daniel is doing. He made the assessment and has chosen not to do a marathon (which is fine, totally valid choice.) What is not ok, is that he took to the internet to demean those who do choose to do a marathon with the suggestion that he knows better than they do how they should spend their time, which is just another “I’ll tell you how to move your body and why” argument, (which is very much not fine.) It’s not our job to tell other people whether or not they should want to make that commitment, or to decide for other people if the choices they are making are the right choices for them.


    3. Late to comment here because I just read this blog. But I agree with you; I too think it’s a valid question to ask. Life balance is a very human problem. I think that intense sports like running can tend to attract intense people who will be, well, intense about their training. That can be off-putting. So, while I agree with the blog author’s perspective, I understand where the Slate writer is coming from.

      I’ve been running regularly for nearly 20 years. I find that it’s a healthy outlet for me. Like other regular practices (i.e. meditation, reading, art), it can effect more areas of one’s life than might be expected. I’ve also recently seen very unique and lovely friends I’d met through running, all of whom are talented, but also amateurs, buy into expensive gear, hire coaches, and pursue ultra-marathons of varying degrees of sanity. The more challenging the pursuit, the more dedication required, the more it seems to become all-encompassing. Because we all have limited time, activities begin to revolve around training. Naturally, conversation and spending habits do too. And, then one day, on a trail run, you realize that everyone’s wearing $100’s in gear, you’re running trails that most people might backpack over the course of days, conversational intimacy with your group has been largely replaced with running theory, and you probably look completely isolated to everyone else (and maybe cliche).

      Wanting to suggest an alternative way of engaging with some of my friends after race season ends, I literally googled “anti-marathon,” and landed here! Great discussion!

      1. I’m all for discussion, putting forth the pros and cons, and asking for opinions, and thoughtfully considering the pros, cons, and opinions.

        If only that were what the Slate journalist were doing, it would be lovely. But it’s not. It was just a big old pile of “I’m right; you’re wrong; feel stupid; give me money.” Yeah, a sales pitch at the end?!

        Also, the question about running a marathon should not be, “Is it right for everyone?” It should be “Is it right for me?” The only time an adult should be asking “Is this right for this other person who is not me?” is if that adult is the legal guardian of the person who is considering running the marathon.

        I don’t think this journalist, who was writing this “for a friend” is actually that friend’s legal guardian.

        If your friends’ conversations are starting to bother you, because you do not share their obsession, or do not share it to the same extent, then politely change the topic, or maybe find some new friends to chat with, or take up a different hobby, or just don’t chat with them for a while, until the running season is over. That is reasonable. Screaming from the rooftops that “THIS kind of exercise is BAD, and too expensive, and stupid, and wasteful, and immoral, and not right, and everything against which all good people of the world should stand and fight!” is not reasonable.

  4. What GRAND failure of basic logic to suggest that memorizing sonnets has greater value or usefulness than training for a marathon.

    “.. Americans could do something truly beneficial for themselves or for their neighbors or for the country as a whole.”

    I’m not the only person with depression who uses running as a reason to exist; I’d say that training for a marathon is the very definition of beneficial for myself. I’ve lost count of how many people have personally told me that they find my perseverance inspiring, but in addition to that, I’ve raised and am continuing to raise a few thousand dollars for charity as part of my marathon training, to say nothing of the additional volunteerism I do outside of training. Are my actions not “truly beneficial” for my neighbors and the country?

    Further, why are international runner exempt from this criticism?

    1. I guess international runners are exempt because he writes for an American audience, and everyone else has diplomatic immunity?

      How do you raise money by training? Do you have sponsors, or something? That’s great!

      1. I signed up with Team in Training (and there are other similar organizations) and receive coaching in exchange for doing fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

  5. Good fuckity gun, Dan. Is it really so bad to do something just to say you did it? If I ever thought I could do it, you *BET* I’d be shouting from the rooftops “HEY I DID A MARATHON” – a bit of pride can still be healthy, ya know.

    1. I jumped off the high dive just to say I did it. Considering my fear of heights, I thought it was freaking awesome. Also, although I have a fear of heights, and usually avoid high places because of it, I have that one experience that tells me that, in a true emergency, I could deal with heights, if needed.

      Knowing that you did something difficult gives you the power to do other difficult things.

  6. OK, so my first thought was that training for a marathon or other long-distance running is excellent emergency preparedness training. After all, the first “marathon” was run by someone with an urgent goal. It wasn’t exactly an emergency (he was brining good news), but I HAVE read survival stories about people who were forced by circumstances to travel a long distance, on foot, without rest, usually because someone’s life was on the line.

    So, if you’re the kind of person who gets into that kind of life-or death situation, training for a marathons IS a practical pursuit.

    Just like how I would like to go camping and learn how to gather edible foodstuffs and trap and hunt and field-dress a deer and sew my own clothes out of hide and sinew (not going to happen now, with my health issues, but the desire is there, because survival is a good thing, but I read a fascinating book on the subject).

    My second thought was – learning Arabic? How about French? I have a slew of French language training CDs that I could listen to while I was running. And if you want to memorize a sonnet, listening to it ten times in a row would do the trick. Yeah, as long as you are on a safe course or a treadmill, you can listen to anything you want, and it could very well be something productive. You could listen to books. Novels are fun, but you know, you can get text books in audio format, as well. How’s that for productive?

    Also, bring along a digital recorder, and as long as you’re not running so fast you are breathless, you could actually dictate a whole book, while you’re running. How’s that for productive, and a boon to society? If it’s a great novel or a great technical manual or a great non-fiction book about the importance of teaching consent to our children, it’s a good thing for society.

    And then I read that last bit, and thought, “A crummy commercial?!”

    And now I want to watch “A Christmas Story,” because it is amazingly funny and wonderful. It is also a valid way to spend a Sunday, or any other day, for that matter, regardless of season.

    1. In the recent forest fires that hit Fort McMurray, there was a news item last week, about a homeowner who returned home (their house remained standing) and there was a note from some firefighters and an EMT saying that they had been fighting fires for 48 hrs with no rest or sleep, and they just got the fires under control, but couldn’t leave the area (not safe outside the area). They broke into the house and spent the night and had some food, and kept it tidy, and thanked the homeowner for their house.

  7. I’ve never done a marathon and I can’t say I understand running as a hobby; I’m definitely more into sonnets. But I certainly don’t understand trying to tell someone else what they shouldn’t and shouldn’t like to do.

    Our time on earth is our time and we can spend it however we want. We can run marathons, memorize sonnets, watch cat videos or knit tea cozies. While it’s noble to want to donate your time to help others, no one is really obligated to do that anyway.

    And while all opinions are valid, it’s OK to say you don’t get something, it’s another thing entirely to say no one else should get it either.

    (BTW, points for the Buffy quote.)

  8. Grim as I like to think I am, apparently I’m still optimistic enough that some part of me is hoping Daniel will come out like, “April fools in June, this is satire, highlighting how ridiculous concern trolling is by aiming a by-the-book concern trolling at a group of people that aren’t normally targets!” I mean, seriously, let us count the bingo spaces:

    -Your running sucks up resources
    -You can’t really be happy as a runner
    -My Best Friend (TM) is a runner, and I say this out of Tough Love (TM) because I’m So Worried (TM) about His Health (TM)
    -We have a crisis of runners on our hands because society is just too indulgent of their excess
    -Runners who are open about running are above themselves and their station in life
    -You’d have to be sick to think running is acceptable
    -Runners push their running on me by existing where I can see them

    Replace “running” with anything else people are prone to getting concern trolled over and get All The Bingos. So it’s got to be a joke, right? Because if it’s not… that is really, really sad, and all I have to say about it is just because one guy cannot see the value in marathons, that does not mean there is no value.

    1. I could have gotten behind his article if it seemed to be a piece of satire (instead of a piece of something else beginning with ‘s’). I live in a place sometimes called Tracktown USA, and I get a wee bit tired of the suggestion that if you’re not running, you’re not living, and not worthy of respect. Fatphobia enters into this as well.

      No, not all runners are like that, but enough emphasis on athletic pursuits as the highest and greatest of man kind’s endeavors does make me crave sarcasm occasionally.

      I would much rather talk about sonnets (my partner recites much poetry from memory, and it makes me melt!) or dental histology, which is fascinating, but I’d never slam anyone’s interests or endeavors in the way this guy seems to be doing.

  9. I don’t know why he’d waste his time writing this. If you don’t want to run a marathon, then don’t. Personally I’d rather shave my head with a dull razor after driving railroad spikes through my abdomen, but I’ve never enjoyed running. However, hats off to you for undertaking such a daunting task!

  10. Crap, meant the play post to be on its own, not under the tetanus one.

    Under tetanus I wanted to point out everyone should be up to date on their shots, because you never know when you might get infected and its a nasty disease.

  11. He must have one or more friends trying to make him feel bad for not running or not running marathons. I get writing something like, “why do people pressure me to run marathons? There’s nothing intrinsically awesome or valuable about them!” But, yeah, this article makes me completely unsympathetic toward him, if only because his logic is terrible.

    I do think there’s a silly but strong belief in our society that such activities are morally superior — not even necessarily because they’re healthy but because they require a severe amount of discipline or are otherwise badass. I would like to have seen that argument made, but I don’t think Danial is going to do that.

    Also, I love you forever for saying that running marathons and Netflix marathons are morally equivalent.

  12. Having been re-directed here by a recent comment, I just want to point out my “favorite” bit of this “article” (screed)

    “Half a million Americans could devote themselves to helping out in soup kitchens, or fortifying dikes, or memorizing sonnets, or playing Google Image Labeler. Half a million Americans could do something truly beneficial for themselves or for their neighbors or for the country as a whole.”

    Let’s zoom in a little now, shall we? He has established that he wants Americans to give up running and do things that are truly MEANINGFUL and BENEFICIAL to the country, as a whole. Things like helping out in soup kitchens, fortifying dikes and…

    “playing Google Image Labeler.”


    1) I don’t even know what that is, but 2) How is this beneficial? How is this so much MORE beneficial that training to run a long distance, so that the body is ABLE to run a long distance, should it suddenly be attacked by famine-bears?

    Now, had he said “playing Tetris,” I could point to a few reasons why that is beneficial. Ask anyone who has had to fit their groceries into the communal refrigerator at work just how beneficial Tetris skills can be.

    Google Image Labeler?!

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