Running a marathon is such a glamorous idea.
If you want people to think that you are overly ambitious/insane/motivated/a total health nut/whatever, tell people you are training for a marathon. People tend to respond one of two ways: they are impressed or they think you are crazy. In their eyes, you have turned into someone who also drinks green smoothies made with cage-free, fair-trade, organic kale.
The usual response is either, “wow, that’s awesome!” or “I could never run that far”. Sometimes it is both. To go on a small side rant… you couldn’t do that now. Believe me, I know what it is like to be completely out of running shape. I remember the first time I ran 5 miles and called it a long run, which happened about a month after my trainer told me to go out and run 5 miles. I frequently reminded him that only crazy people ran that far. End rant. For now.
The finish line is a magical moment. You feel invincible. You also feel like you got hit by a bus.
To round out your magical moment, don’t forget that you may be suffering from a myriad of maladies, including blisters, chafing, and digestive distress. You may need adult supervision because you are glycogen-depleted enough to put your shoes on the wrong feet. I finished one race in so much pain that the only thing that felt good was to lay on the ground with my feet on the bumper of my mother’s car.
However, there is an incredible sense of accomplishment for even finishing. For tackling something so mammoth. Most people don’t even get to the starting line.
Running a marathon is a glamorous idea.
Training for a marathon is ugly.
Your feet suffer, your energy suffers, everything starts to ache all of the time. In the last few weeks, as my mileage has increased and my workouts have gotten more intense, I have cried more than once for no reason other than I am tired and tired of being tired.
8 miles into my long run on Sunday, I felt like my legs couldn’t carry me another step. My body felt so heavy and and the miles felt so long. And sometimes you just have to stop mid-run to cry. So I did. Tears of exhaustion and frustration. I am just over 3 weeks out from Boston and the workload is taking its toll on my body and mind.
As I stood on the side of the road, contemplating calling someone to come get me, I was hit with an unfortunate truth…
You have to suffer.
You have to suffer. No one gets to take that from you. No one can save you from this. It is your burden to bear. You are doing something big and you will know the cost of success. You will hurt. Physically, mentally. You have to suffer. It is part of the process. You must learn to endure. You must learn to press on when you feel like you can’t take another step.
You have to suffer. There are things you can learn no other way.
Marathon training teaches you how to fight. How to endure. How to take another step when you are entirely certain that you can’t. How to persevere. That your body is capable of amazing things.
I believe Ted Corbitt said it best: “I wanted to quit because I was suffering. That is not a good enough reason.”
Strength is earned. And those of us who decide to do extraordinary things will know the cost. But we also get to do really cool things. Press on, my friends.