To the Person Thinking of Running a Marathon,
Marathons are funny. Some people run hundreds of marathons and others have a marathon on their bucket list for years. There are a million reasons NOT to run a marathon. Like you have to run for HOURS. Training takes up precious family or work time. Not to mention it is crazy. It’s long. And is the human body even SUPPOSED to run 26.2 miles?
I ran my first marathon in September 2003. Then I ran the same marathon the next year. Twelve years ago seems like a lifetime ago – that was pre grad school, pre marriage, and pre babies. I’m a different person now. But the lessons I learned that summer of 2003 training for the marathon remain with me.
It was summer and I was home from college, living with my parents in a very remote corner of Utah. The nearest Walmart was an hour away, in Colorado. Life was lonely and looking back, I was probably suffering from a bit of depression. Since I didn’t have very many friends and I was done with work by 5, I decided to train for my first marathon. I needed a big change because I didn’t like who I was – I was uncomfortable in my own skin. So I looked up a beginner’s training plan and started logging miles on those backcountry roads with my parent’s golden lab, Braun. Braun and I because fast friends (fast as in good, not fast as in pace ;)).
As the miles passed, the dark cloud over me began to lift at times and I felt days or times where I could be myself. I started to feel more and more comfortable in my own skin, and I began to open up to new friendships. Pounding the pavement was my cheap college student therapy.
But sadly, I really had no idea what I was doing. Cross training or strength training never entered my mind. My knee started to hurt and my Achilles tendon started ripping. But I couldn’t stop running. It was like an addiction. Running was my bridge that helped me get from who I was to who I wanted to be. And I couldn’t let anything stop me from travelling that path.
So I kept training and ran the marathon in the midst of the injuries. When I crossed that finish line I had a smile on my face for my accomplishment and tears running down by cheeks because I could barely remember the person I was when I started. I was an unsure socially uncomfortable teenager turned into a proud college student. The injuries were worth it. I had improved myself emotionally and mentally – and that was priceless. By the finish line, I looked down and realized I had transformed my body too. It was such a slow transformation I hardly noticed, but it also felt wonderful to have a lean runner’s body.
So here are my top 5 reasons why running a marathon should be on your short list:
- Your mental strength will increase exponentially. Running a marathon is less about physical strength (although you do need it) and more about mentally pushing through those really hard barriers. We are used to quitting. So we keep quitting. STOP quitting!
- You will feel more emotionally balanced. Can I get a YAY from all by lady friends?? Pounding the pavement will melt down all frustrations and leave you feeling surprisingly clarified.
- Physically, you will like the change. Promise. Who doesn’t love toned legs? Running gets that extra layer of fat to melt off your body.
- Running will boost your mood. Much like being emotionally balanced – but I remember one day while training I woke up a bit grouchy. My mom said “Will you please go for a run so you can be nice?” So I did, and I came back nice. And a better person. And so will you.
- Running will give you confidence in other areas of your life. Marathoning requires dedication and perseverance. There are great runs and horrible runs. But blended together, they make a beautiful effort. You will realize that dedicated effort can be transferred to other areas of your life, and you can be wildly successful in those endeavors.
Since my last marathon in 2004, I haven’t run more than 10 miles at a time. Life has changed and gotten busy in different ways (remember law school, then 3 kids 6 and under?) But I’m back to running. I actually logged 19 miles this week! (This is an accomplishment for me.) I think it’s an indicator I’m ready to go undergo another transformation. I’m ready to do a marathon in the next couple of years. It’s going to be my best and greatest. And hopefully my fastest pace!
One final word of advice – when you are buying yourself some awesome running shoes, get yourself a foam roller. Use it everyday while training. And you will avoid SO MANY injuries.
Best of luck!