In about 4 months I will be in the starting pens lining up to start the Chicago Marathon. After many months of strenuous training, I will have flown a staggering 3937miles to run 26.2miles. Sounds crazy right! What kind of an ‘idiot’ does this you may ask; and why? Let me put you out of your confusing misery. I get asked why I run marathons all the time, I don’t have one solid reason and I don’t think I ever will have one; what I do have is an aggregate of 26 reasons why.
I’ve been health conscious since a young age; and as we grow older, our priorities tend to change and majority of the time we begin to neglect our health and fitness. Having that marathon or even that odd race planned in the near future will keep me going to the gym or pounding pavements at least a few times a week. Resulting in a steady health condition at the very least.
Since my first race in 2014, I’ve met some great people on-track and off-track. I’ve had some interesting conversation with fellow runners during a race, mostly on major races where people come from all different corners of the world. If you’ve met me in the past three years and we became friends, marathoning may be a good reason for that.
3. Do (Aspire, Act, Achieve)
The simple act of saying that you are going to do something and actually following up and doing it. During my adolescence, there are numerous things I’ve started and stopped and/or gave up before getting to the end. Now every time I start pursuing something, I make sure that I actually follow up and finish it; and that applies to all areas of life, in career, relationships, life goals etc.
Running has just become another excuse to travel to places I’ve always wanted to go to, I did my first International race in Amsterdam in 2015; and the furthest I’ve travelled to is Berlin in September of 2016. Now I will be going to Chicago. I tend to spend a few cheeky extra days exploring the city, trying out the local cuisine and meet a few online friends (instafriends for those that know) and maybe go on a bit of an Instagram mission too.
If you’re a runner, you’ll know one of the major perks of running a race is the medal that we receive in the end, the solid trophy that is the ideal climax for the months if not years of hard work, persisting, persevering, training on days we did not even feel like, keeping a healthy diet and fighting through numerous pains. It is not what I solely do it for but it’s something tangible representation of my motivation and unwillingness to give up. I now have quite a generous collection of medals hanging in my room, each one unique, each one with a story.
6. Pain Threshold
The first kilometre is nothing, the first five I feel like I’m on autopilot and the ‘superman’ feeling hits me around the 12k mark. The wonderful feeling soon goes away when closing onto the halfway point. Then the pain starts, the mind voices begin to talk; you’d want to stop and walk but you can’t there is a time penalty for that, you haven’t trained this much and travelled this far to half-arse this, you have to keep going.
The constant throbbing pain will hit at one point whether you are an elite runner or just trying to get across that line no matter what. That pain is one of a kind and it does sort of set a standard for one of the highest pain one will ever feel, there is so much beneath that. If I can do this, then it makes many other things possible.
Majority of runners tend to run a marathon for charitable reasons, it is indeed a great way to raise money for a cause you believe in. I’ve raised a fair amount for charity and continue to do so in many future races to come.
Believing that I could complete such a mountainous and strenuous task and actually doing it really had an impact on my self belief. Doing it over and over again has more of an impact over time and will only strengthen my self belief.
It’s always healthy go have a goal to work towards while training, to me it justifies all the grind and sweat that goes in and out of my workouts. I also find it that it affect others around me, it might motivate them to start hitting the gym again or even convince them to take part in an event (on the rare occasion).
Marathons usually occur during the spring or fall seasons, and as it is something that has an impact on my day-to-day activities. I usually have a set of tasks and goals that I want to achieve (in life) before the next marathon.
I say that a marathon is a metaphor for life, the ups, the downs, the pacing, the consequence of going faster than one should, or even being too slow. In short, there are many obstacles in life and we should not let them limit us and instead beat them down and just keep going till the end!
This point is quite similar to #Goals. Running races and disassociating allows me to be inspired to do more ‘artistic’ things in life. Do more; and in the process of that inspire others!
I remember that slight feeling of fear when I signed up for my first half marathon; and even more so when I applied for that first marathon. I’ve now done over 15 races, the fear just gets smaller every time as confidence increases. Over time I reach out further into unknown territories that are more fearful to me. Fearfulness is foolishness.
14. Mental Strength
If you are a marathoner you will understand that it is beyond fitness and health. In the bigger picture, it is a journey, A journey of the mind, if you believe, then you can. The more you believe, the more possible something gets. Each and every attempt just increase your mental strength.
15. New Normal
For the majority, a marathon and/or any other distance races is a bucket list item, and it’s a one shot one tick sort of thing (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that); however I’ve managed to turn this into my lifestyle. My normal has now changed, in terms of fitness I am able to do a 10K with next to no training; and a half marathon with very little training (not showing off, but just showing that it’s possible).
When I completed my first half marathon, completely in pain and waiting for a massage; I saw a guy walking around with over a dozen medals around his neck. My initial reaction was, oh wow, what a champ! A few years later, I am that guy. These are one of the prime examples when relativity came into play.
Similar to the pervious point. Viewing myself from different timelines, some things that have seemed impossible, is now the norm. And some things that seem impossible now may become a reality in the future.
It took me three marathons to realise that some personal records are unobtainable (without the hard work behind it of course). Setting unrealistic finishing times is a recipe for disaster, one can seriously get injured. It taught me to be to be realistic with many things in life, aim high but be smart about it, it’s not good to be deluded.
19. Persistance & Perseverance
‘Water cuts through rock because it is persistent’.
Pushing and pushing through boundaries, jumping curves and getting to the next level is what persistence is all about; and when you fail and fall, getting back up and carrying on until you achieve what you set out to do. That is perseverance, follow these two and you will be unbeatable. What a beautiful marriage! Apply this to life and you will achieve great success!
As I’ve mentioned before, marathon separates the mind and the body. And as it’s mainly about the mind, you have the ability to control it. You can are able to ‘zone-out’ i.e disassociate and think about other things. As the body is in constant motion, the mind can be anywhere it desires. It also helps not to think about however many miles you got to go until you finish.
The misconception of patience is to wait for something to happen. In actual fact, is it working for something that takes long, keep going till the end and finishing it. Patience is not waiting but not giving up on something that is time intensive.
22. GVO (Positivity)
Endorphins hence happy hormones is one of the chemicals released during running. Also called runners high, keep moving and have a constant release of this ‘unicorn juice’. A positive mindset will lead to a positive life.
23. Mind Control
As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, marathon is a mind game. As long as the physical side is in good order, your mental mindset will strengthen with progress. If you believe, you can!
One of the major ways to increase your confidence is to work on self-confidence. Once you start to believe in yourself, your self-confidence increases as a side-effect; hence increasing your external confidence overall!
Running is therapy, I’ve overcome many mental health issues since I’ve begun this journey. This probably needs a whole separate blog on its own; but to name a few my anxiety has tremendously gone down, my confidence has increased and I’m constantly wanting to keep moving out of my comfort zone.
Beginning from zero and progressing this far (and of course, I’ve got much further to go) gave me a confidence to be never afraid to learn something new, it is possible to start from zero at any time in life and progress to a higher level if you have the willingness to go it.
If you’ve made it to the end, you’re a champion. I applaud your patience and unwillingness to give up, you may have what it takes to complete a marathon (winky face). As an added bonus, I’ll give you an additional reason why I do it. I’m sure many runners can relate when I say this, it simply adds a layer of awesomeness to life.