Why run marathons? Of course I was asked this many times. You don’t need to explain to a marathon runner, but you often talk about it. The short answer I would give is that you can experience all of life’s emotions in one morning.
“A good laugh and a long run are the two best cures for anything.” —Unknown
You have prepared for months. That morning, you are anxious and hopeful. You review your strategies. You pick the right clothes. You make sure you are on time. You are excited and well-rested. You are fearful as you know what the marathon does to one. It is never easy. If you run it casually it is not as bad, but if you are running to do your best, you understand that your life will change in the next days from the pain and exertion.
So you begin the race optimistic, excited and fearful. You begin and feel the joy of running. Sometimes you are cold or hot, but you feel good. As the race develops, sometimes you make mistakes and then you realize the mistakes and have to correct course as much as possible.
You have to control the negative talk. Just like life. You may experience elation as you continue. Then, it starts to get tough, just like life. You dig in and try to use what you have learned. You get scared that your race will fall apart. You may have a foot problem, a knee problem, a stomach or back problem. You try to manage it without giving up your goals. Things can look bleak. Worry creeps in. Will I make it? Have I missed my goal? In some races it slips away slowly and you dread seeing it happen.
You become sad, discouraged, but have to pick yourself up. People try to encourage you. Just like life. You recover, you come back. You are fighting to keep going. Just like life.
In the last six miles, everything in you tells you to give up, but you have to keep going. You have to. Just like life. The alternative is unacceptable.
You can’t quit. You wonder how long this can go on. You really just want to cry to your mother. Your emotions are raw and pure. You are humbled and unafraid to say so.
You see the finish line. You know that you can finish. Relief like never felt. When you cross the line you can barely move but you feel wonderful. Such a sensation. Typically a person takes the chip off your shoe as you can’t bend over to do it. The marathon has beaten you up. Often those friendly people at the end of the race evoke intense emotions. One feels so grateful for their help and support. Many people cry at that point.
A medal is placed around your neck. After my first marathon I did not want to remove it for days because it felt so significant. After later marathons I would often wear it beneath my clothing because I wanted to hang on to that amazing feeling for a little longer. I wish I could transfer the sensation to others but it is something that one has to experience to understand. Miss you marathoning.
Some other great reasons to run a marathon:
1. You of course become very fit
2. You create stamina not only physically, but mentally and emotionally
3. You always have a goal you are working towards so it keeps the rest of your life focused
4. You create very healthy friendships with your training partners
5. You believe you can do anything
6. Interestingly enough, during the time I was training for and running marathons, I received many awards related to my career. It may have been coincidental but I believe you have more energy and confidence while training.