3 1/2 years ago, I crossed the finish line of the Portland Marathon and promised myself I’d never do something so stupid ever again. I would tell everyone I knew the same thing…at which point they would roll their eyes and sarcastically say, “Sure, whatever you say, Nicole.” Seriously though, never again.
And until 3 months ago, I was sticking pretty hard to that tune. I’m a half-marathoner. It’s a much more reasonable distance, and you can actually race it. And, feel perfectly fine the next day. But somehow, a friend persuaded me to train for another marathon, and to my surprise, she didn’t have to twist my arm very hard for agreement. I think it’s because deep down, I have been bitten by the marathon bug like so many other runners before me, and I wanted to try it again.
While the race still sticks in my mind as probably the most painful form of exercise I can ever remember doing (and I weirdly find pleasure in running long distances, speedy track workouts, and heated yoga classes), I think the most intriguing part of the marathon isn’t the race itself, but the training that goes into it.
Training to run 26.2 miles requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline. It’s (at least) a 4-month commitment to a running plan, with scheduled short and long runs, speed workouts, hills, and rest days each week, all slowly building up for the big race. After all of the hard work, the marathon race is a reflection of that dedication. For the goal-setters among us, the marathon reveals the ultimate grit asked of a person.
Speaking of grit, saying that you’re a marathoner will put you among a special class of people. Though more and more people are running marathons each year, it is by no means an achievement to scoff at. In fact, most people have a degree of admiration or respect for anyone that can put themselves through this unique brand of torture.
But it’s not just for the bragging rights, or the cool t-shirt that we runners put ourselves through this (though sometimes I joke it is). Everyone has their own reasons for running the marathon – health/fitness, time, another check off the bucket list, etc.; but ultimately, it’s about testing our limits. Whether it’s your first marathon or a twenty-first, it will challenge you mentally and physically, bring you to face the depths of your being.
And if you can train and race a marathon, what can’t you accomplish?