Peer Pressure and Marathon Spirit

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.

Showing some love before the race.

Showing some love before the race.

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!


55 thoughts on “Peer Pressure and Marathon Spirit

  1. Very good post. I have only run one marathon, but I didn’t have enough time to prepare and went from 13 mile LSD to 20 in about 5 weeks. I did finish the marathon though, so I made my goal. 🙂 I really haven’t had a desire for another marathon, but after reading this, maybe if I can get healthy and stay healthy, I could do it again. Thanks!!!

    • Get yourself back to 100% first and then give yourself a good 16-20 weeks of nice progressive training and you will be great. It is a fun journey for sure (well most of the time).

  2. this is great. i truly appreciate and echo your optimism and passion for the journey of a marathon, which i also believe really changes you and makes you reevaluate your life during that time. it was an amazing, humbling experience for me that i’ll be starting again, as i’m running my 2nd this fall. enjoyed this post a lot.

    • So great to hear. Good luck with your training. Even though I am just training the runners and not running the marathon, I am super excited to jump back in the training. Personally I think it is almost the best part of it.

  3. Great post! And yes, I agree, a marathon is more than the race, it’s the commitment and months of training that go with it. Most spectators only see the end result, they don’t see all the miles and miles we ran to get there!

  4. Lol, good thing I made the decision on my own to sign up for a marathon – don’t have to deal with any “peer pressure!” Love this post!

  5. Oh my goodness this post made me cry. This was exactly what I needed to read during my taper week. Absolutely amazing and I love all the quotes. Thank you for sharing this. 🙂

  6. This is a great post and especially since I am training for my first marathon currently for Oct. I’m excited and nervous. I’m not sure I have what it takes being 54 years old but I want it so bad that I think about it all time. Nothing has ever had this effect on me. I love all your posts. Thanks for sharing. And I get very emotional watching both “Spirit of the Marathons”

  7. I am that 10-15 m/p/w guy. At 52, a full seems like a pipe dream. I’ve done a half and a bunch of 10’s and 5’s. I’ve always fantasized about a full, but it appears to be too far off. I think it would take a year of prep work, then it would still be a big fat IF. I dunno… I hope this doesn’t become the big regret in my life. 🙂

  8. After a solid year now that I have been running and always saying I would never do a full Marathon. It only took you a few months to break me. As I was on my 15.5 mile run last night. I was thinking about training coming up starting June. I’m already running 35-45 a week now I’m not adding much more miles, just speed workouts. I am excited to start this new Journey. Thank you !! Bring on Bayshore half this weekend!

  9. Oh, this is fantastic. i am applying to be a mentor/coach for the upcoming season while training for my own marathon, so this just hits the nail on the head. Thank you!

  10. I love this post! I have learned through my own experiences that marathon training makes you mentally stronger more so than physically stronger. It is a lot of dedication and determination but very rewarding!!! I have done workouts that I never thought possible!

  11. I’m laughing thinking of you as a marathon bully..!! 🙂 But seriously, I think it’s great that you are talking to people about running more, and running a marathon (soon or eventually?).
    I’m running my first marathon this winter, and although I know training will be hard, mainly because I want a specific finish time range, I know I can do it. And just a year ago the thought of running that much seemed crazy, scary, and undoable. After building a good base and getting used to the long runs, my perspective has definitely changed.

  12. Pingback: Nothing left to do but sit on the couch and relax. {A reflection on my training.} | Run Salt Run

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