Enough. Stop. I can't take any more. Please.

If one more person tells me they're thinking about training for, have done or are currently in the middle of a half-marathon, I'm going to push them to the ground, unlace their Nike Air Zoom Odysseys and throw up. In both of them.

Others before me have sustained the rigours of their time; the Stone Age with its frustrating lack of matches, the Industrial Age with its poor working conditions, the age of the bone-crushing corset, the MC-hammer pants, the perm.

Each of us in our time pays a penance to the whims of fashion and current "best practice". For myself, it appears I must endure an age when you're nobody if you can't array yourself in Spandex and beat the streets for 21km or more.


This week, three people have told me they're training for a half-marathon. Which needs to be viewed in the context of who these people are.

They are busy mums, exhausted from the "must-do-it-all" requirements of modern life and I have never known them to run short distances, let alone extremely long ones. Frighteningly, they are just like me.

Except soon they will be totally unlike me. Because in the First World there are now two types of humans: those who have run a half-marathon, and those who have not. Half-marathons are the new black. They are the new sex, the new sleep, they are Where It Is At.

And in my humble, minority view, they are also ridiculous. For a start, there is the investment of time needed to train.

When most of us moan about never having enough time to do what's really necessary, where is the logic in introducing a time-rich/payback-poor obligation that requires up to an hour of your day, at least four days in a week? Isn't life hard enough already?

I get that half-marathons are about personal goal-setting, bucket list-ticking and lashing oneself to a commitment in such a way that it becomes difficult to renege. But aren't there easier (and shorter) ways to achieve personal fulfilment?

I know I'll be endlessly abused for my views on this and convincingly lectured to about all the empirical benefits that have been gained by running a half.

The stereotypical long-distance runner is, after all, well educated and lit from within by the zealous need all addicts have to draw others into their web.

But, with me, their efforts are wasted. The only time I see the benefit of running is when I am running late.

The modern man is the result of a very clever evolutionary process that saw us rise up from four limbs to two, then learn to run in order to prey and avoid being preyed upon.

We did not learn to run so we could pick two points on a map and go between them as fast as we could for no other reason than to say we'd done so.

Now don't beat your chest about the benefits of good health and exercise; I'm a big believer in all that jazz but only in the moderated way we've been taught to believe is right. Twenty-one kilometres in around two hours is not moderation. It's annihilation.

Cardiac arrest, osteoarthritis and muscle damage immediately spring to mind.

And let's not forget the full 42km event is named after the time a runner covered that distance from Marathon to Athens to announce "Rejoice, we conquer", only to fall down dead right after.

I'd sooner stay home on the couch, be uncool and take my chances.

- Eva Bradley is a columnist and photographer.