When I tell people I am planning to run a marathon, one of the most common questions I am asked is why? This is not exactly a common endeavor, and certainly something that most people fear because of the commitment and effort required.
For as long as I can remember I have always had a desire to test myself against one of the most extreme challenges a person can undertake. Over the last year, as I have become more comfortable running and improved my abilities, that ambition has returned. A few weeks ago, Jess and I watched the New York City marathon and I remember looking at many of those individuals and thinking to myself, “if they can do it so can I.” There is no doubting the physical challenges associated with running 26 miles and 385 yards. The strain on the body must be incredible, and I am only beginning to find out exactly what is required to get myself ready as I research different training plans.
But there is another side to the challenge, one that gets far less coverage but that is probably just as important. There is a significant mental and emotional burden on the runner, over the course of the training and marathon itself. According to some runners and coaches, this can have as much, if not more, of a bearing on the runners performance as the physical preparation. I recently read the excellent Accidental Athlete by John Bingham (link) and was delighted to see the author dedicate time to this area.Even now, as I challenge myself to run ever increasing distances and take part in my first races over short distances, I am beginning to become aware of the need for proper mental preparation.
So why am I doing this? There are the obvious and aforementioned reasons, but primarily because a few years ago I never would have imagined or envisioned myself accomplishing this feat. I want to know what it feels like to cross the finish line after covering that legendary distance – to be able to look myself in the mirror and know that I achieved a long-term goal of mine. I don’t care that I won’t finish first – finishing is what matters – completing the run and proving to myself that I can do something if I set my mind to it.