If you’ve ever run a marathon or even just trained for one, you’ve heard this from many, many people: “You are crazy.” Right? And we are, a little bit, for so many reasons.
But today I want to focus not on the hours of training, not on the hitting of the dreaded wall, or the blood, sweat, tears, poop, snot and other assorted bodily fluids shed in the course of a marathon.
Today, I’m outlining 10 reasons running a marathon is crazy AWESOME.
For every time you say to yourself, “What am I doing?” when waking up at 5am on a weekend to go run a ridiculous length of time, there’s always a good reason to keep going and bathe in the awesome (and maybe in ice, too) of what you’re planning on achieving.
1. There is no other sport in which the elites are running along with total amateurs. It’s a testament to the inclusive nature of running that you’re all lining up at the same starting line, in the same event. Yes, the elite runners start separately from the general running population, but just like in any sport, there’s a little magic in knowing anything can happen. Just ask this guy. Or this guy.
2. You are one of very, very few marathoners. If you read (or, for that matter, write) running blogs, you can be forgiven for thinking every man, woman and their dog is a marathoner, or training for a marathon, or thinking about training for a marathon. In reality, the statistics are pretty amazing. When you cross that marathon finish line in the US, you can soak up the realization that you are one of only 1.7% of the US population to achieve the goal of running 26.2 miles.
3. Running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other. When you train for a marathon, you’re learning how to manage time, to make sacrifices for an end goal, to work towards something you may not know or believe you can accomplish. It’s a huge goal, which requires a lot of dedication, optimism, hard work and yes, a little bit of misery, to achieve. But there is so much joy to be had, not only in achieving your goal, but in celebrating your milestones along the way.
4. You can enjoy being in the best shape of your life. If you’re not someone who regularly runs long distances, looking down the barrel of a marathon training plan is intimidating. Sure, Week One looks okay with its 6 mile long run, but then your eyes jump ahead to Week Twelve with its 20 miler and you will find yourself in a cold sweat. So it’s such an amazing feeling when you start tapering and you realize 8, 10 or 12 miles is no longer a ‘long run’ in your mind. You can do that, no problem, because you’re in peak cardiovascular fitness. It’s a glorious feeling, both mentally and physically. Soak it up.
5. Even if you don’t realize it, you’re inspiring others. So many people start running, or attempt a race, because they’re inspired by a loved one training for a marathon. Your dedication to achieving your goal can inspire someone to try for something they may not believe they can achieve – whether or not it’s running-related. So go ahead and post about your 20 mile training run on social media and wear your medal with pride. You never know who may look to you as a role model.
6. Training for and finishing a marathon is also a long, tiring way of proving to yourself that you’re not a quitter, that you don’t back down. It would be so easy to give up along the way – training is tough and takes a lot of time and planning. Even when you slog through that, the race itself is still overwhelming.
7. You’re inspiring yourself to take more risks, work harder, shoot for the stars, in every area of your life. A goal that may have seemed insurmountable to you was something you achieved, through planning, training, believing in yourself and then just doing it – that translates to just about everything else you want to achieve.
8. Everything tastes amazing after you run 26.2. Especially beer.
9. It’s one of the few sports in which you’re not considered over the hill once you hit your late twenties. In fact, the average age of a marathoner in 2014 was 40.2 for men and 36.6 for women. Not only that, as you get older, you get to move into different age categories and get a crack at placing in your age group all over again.
1o. It’s worth doing for the unforgettable race-day experience. Running a marathon isn’t just getting through 26.2 miles of running. It’s soaking up the energy of the crowd there just to watch the runners. It’s feeling the camaraderie of hundreds (or even thousands) of fellow marathoners before the start and during the race. It’s the chance to travel and to run in iconic places. It’s high-fiving kids along the route. It’s thanking the volunteers. It’s being hugged at the finish line by compete strangers. It’s all those little things that make running a marathon such an awesome experience.
So, the next time someone suggests you’re crazy for running a marathon, all you need to do is refer to this list so you can assure them you’re crazy only in the most wonderful way.
Marathoners, what’s your favorite part about running 26.2?
What was something that surprised you about running a marathon?