Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | December 23, 2012

How a Marathon Is Like Christmas

On the surface, a marathon and Christmas seem to be completely different. One involves running, sometimes in pain, for several hours while exposed to the elements. The other involves sitting in front of a brightly lit tree while opening presents and eating goodies. No similarities there.

But in an effort to compare and contrast a marathon and Christmas, I did a handy-dandy chart:

Marathon Christmas
Duration 26.2 miles However many days between Thanksgiving and Christmas
At the end you get A medal Some presents
Beverage of choice Gatorade Eggnog
Food of choice Gu Gingerbread cookies
Appropriate Footwear Sauconys Uggs
Toughest workout in preparation 20 Miler three weeks before The Mall the Saturday before
Calming acttivity leading up to the big day Watch movies Drink Alcohol
The day before Wander around the Expo mumbling “Where the heck is packet pickup?” Wander around the neighborhood with the carolers, mumbling “It came upon a something something, I can’t remember the words.”
Sweet indulgence Honey Stingers Candy canes
External preparation Lay out the race outfit Deck the halls
The night before Carb Load Church Load
Always put off ’til too late Speed workouts Mailing Christmas cards
Name that should not be taken in vain on this day Bart Yasso The Lord
Big symbol towering over the event Finish line banner Christmas tree
Hazards Digestive issues Drunk relatives
Things that could go wrong Pretty much anything Pretty much anything
Budget blown on Yet another shirt with a funny running-related saying you got at the Expo Yet another set of handmade glass ornaments you bought last-minute at that overpriced boutique in town
The thing you display on the front Bib Wreath
Socks Compression Stockings
Mantra One more mile, one more mile Fa la la la la, la la la la
Despicable and/or practical solution Snot rockets Regifting
Most Painful Part Miles 20-24 Karen Carpenter’s Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Unwanted souvenir Unattractive race photos Unattractive morning-of photos
What’s left after A big pile of sweaty running clothes A big pile of torn apart wrapping paper
Immediate result Unable to walk down stairs for two days Unable to look at Eggnog for 364 days
Lasting effect Lingering good feeling Lingering good feeling

So, while quite different on the surface, it seems that in the end, a marathon and Christmas actually have a lot in common. For example, you know well in advance that each event is coming and plan accordingly, sometimes obsessively. The date looms over your brain. You count the days. You make lists of things that have to be done. You do a ton of shopping. You spend a lot of time thinking about food.

As the date gets closer, it’s the only thing you can think about. No matter how prepared you are, there’s always last-minute stress. Have you forgotten anything? What if something goes wrong? Are you really ready?

And then, boom. It’s over. Within just a few short days, life goes back to normal and you’ve forgotten all about it.

Maybe it was better than you expected. Maybe it was a bit of a let down. Maybe you reveled in that euphoric feeling of (endorphin induced?) peace or maybe you were frustrated by the experience. Maybe you spend the next day look back on it, reflecting over every minute.

But most likely, you’re already planning ahead for the next one, in spite of all the time, energy, and effort. Because in the end, the meaning comes not from the event itself but from the journey that you take towards it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Marathoning.


Screen shot 2012-12-23 at 2.50.00 PM


  1. Too cute! I loved this post 🙂

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