If you’re looking for a new challenge and have the opportunity to run a marathon, I would definitely, if I were you, run in the other direction as fast as you can.



That’s the only running I’ll recommend, though.



Before you get any ideas about “healthy living,” keep in mind where the marathon originated: According to Greek legend, passed down by generations of Wikipedia writers, Pheidippides (or “Dippy,” as his friends called him) ran from a battle to faraway Marathon, cleverly keeping his bearings by staying to the right of numerous orange traffic cones.



Powered only by steely determination and Gatorade tables every three kilometres, Dippy ran without stopping because, as classical paintings depicting the event illustrate, he wasn’t wearing pants. Arriving in Marathon and conveying his final, brave message to his superiors (“They’ve taken our pants!”), he collapsed and died. I can confirm the validity of this Marathon legend, too, because I just ran a half-marathon four days ago and I’m definitely half-dead.



So I speak from experience when I say that if you want to run a long race, you should find something more fun to do, such as unnecessary dental surgery. The Marathon legend actually understates the difficulties, because it leaves out when Pheidippides skipped beers with his friends on the weekend because he had to train.



My point is that if you take part in a marathon, you are signing up for an event that killed its first participant. It would be like registering for the annual Titanic Ship Race and Iceberg Avoidance Festival.



So I’m begging you not to make the same mistakes I made. I started, six years ago, with a full marathon, which is exactly 26 miles, or 7,500 kilometres. It was beyond difficult and only with the finish line in sight did I surge ahead, passing a woman in her late 60s who, judging by her facial expression, may not have been entirely aware she was in a race.



So I finished second-to-last, yet I still enjoyed myself and have been referred to since as The Penultimate Warrior — at least when I’m looking in the mirror and no one else is around.



And therein the problem with running. Here I am complaining about it, but I CAN’T STOP. It’s a gruelling, painful, sometimes demoralizing experience and, yet, there’s something when you’re running that tells you it’s one of the best things you’ve ever done.



And if you start, well, I can’t be held responsible for what happens. Keep a close watch on your pants.