For the past few weeks my job has been to work with and convince people to sign up for a marathon. To be honest, I kind of like it and enjoy inflicting this type of peer pressure. The reason why is because I truly love everything the marathon has to offer. It is a learning and building experience that I think is life changing as both a runner and for life in general. It isn’t like the 5k where many declare they will finish one and take a few weeks to prepare. This is a journey that requires a lot of time and hard work. But if you are diligent and put your time in, it is an achievable goal for many people.
I can honestly say that all the people I chatted with and convinced to do the Chicago Marathon this spring are 100% capable and I really wanted them to do this for themselves. I have to apologize to my friend Jerry because I harassed him for months on Facebook every time he posted his mileage. He was putting in serious miles and every single time he mentioned his running I asked him when he would do a marathon. I finally wore him down and he is going for his first. There were a few other friends that I was persistent with, but to be fair I really want them to have this experience.
“The marathon is the biggest totally peaceful community activity in human history.”- Spirit of the Marathon II
I absolutely love this quote. I loved it from the moment I saw the trailer for this movie. This quote sums up everything that is so awesome about being a part of a marathon whether you are running, volunteering, or there to cheer on the runners. To watch people of all abilities push their bodies for months and then work to see it come to fruition as 26.2 miles is nothing more than inspirational. If you ever want to see grumpy New Yorkers at their warmest I recommend standing along 1st Avenue on Marathon Sunday.
To me, every part of the marathon is a lesson not just in running but about life. From the moment you hit the pavement for your first training run to the day you start and finish the race you are learning. Sure you are learning about running, but you are learning a lot more than that.
The Building Phase: Part of marathon training is about building up your mileage. Turning a runner who does 10-15 miles per week into a marathoner takes some additional mileage. You need to build up your base, not just in miles but also in character, confidence, muscles and endurance. Isn’t that what life is about? Aren’t we always trying to build upon where we are and become stronger each day?
The Long Slow Distance Run: Nothing teaches patience like going out early on a Saturday morning to run 20 miles before the rest of the world crawls out of bed. Running alone for a dozen plus miles requires you to stay calm and confident and allow yourself to slowly work through the miles. If you take off and start counting the miles or worrying about mile 19 you will never get to the finish, and if you do it will be a miserable experience. The LSD teaches you to take your time and not look too far ahead into the future lest you be overwhelmed.
Learning to Acclimate: My husband likens marathon training to scaling Mt. Everest. No one starts at the bottom and scales straight to the top. They work their way up and camp for awhile and then continue a ways before stopping again. They even go up and work back down again, much like the progression of your long training runs. Sometimes you need to learn to take a break, to readjust, and to reassess. Life isn’t about going straight to the top. You need to experience the ups and downs to appreciate what the top has to offer.
“The marathon is all about inspiration and triumph…..every runner is trying to pursue their own individual goals.”- Sprit of the Marathon II
I love asking my runners what their goal is for the marathon. Many athletes shrug with embarrassment and say, “I just want to finish.” Personally I think that is the ultimate goal for any athlete in a marathon. I find it to be the perfect goal. It isn’t easy, it takes hard work, but the experience will be unlike anything else in your life.
“It is the journey that is the most significant and it changes peoples’ lives.”-Spirit of the Marathon II
That quote is the reason that all of the hard work and all of the struggles of marathon training are worth it. If I had to tell you why I want so many people to jump in and join the experience it is because the actual journey itself of training for a marathon is life changing. No matter who you are, you will find that deep within you there is a very strong person; stronger than you ever imagined. You will find that you are capable of so many great things….and probably also that certain foods go down (and stay) much better than others.
All jokes aside I am truly excited and inspired by all of the athletes of so many different backgrounds who have decided to experience the journey that the marathon has to offer.
A special shout out this week goes to Jerry, Beccah, and Michelle for being running inspirations!