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Why would you want to do that? You’re crazy.
That is a common question I get when it comes up in conversation that I run the occasional marathon here and there. It seems like a absurd question to me, but I also realize that it is an honest one. Why would I want to run a marathon? Why put myself through the agony, pain, and doubt? Why run a distance that has defeated so many?
3 years ago I would have been asking the same questions.
I recently read that it was one thing to think you could run 26.2 miles, but a completely different thing to KNOW that you could.
Is that why I run the marathon?
But that really only applies to the first time you run a marathon. At this point I have 5 under my belt, and number 6 is just 2 weeks away.
It’s one thing to be a runner. Running has tremendous health benefits. But to achieve these benefits, one does NOT have to run a marathon. In fact, there is some science out there that seems to indicate that marathon running is in fact NOT that good for you. I can understand that running a marathon a day would have detrimental effects on one’s health. Even running 4 marathons in a year and 5 in 53 weeks like I did last year can lead to overuse injuries.
So why do I do it? Why do I want to?
I guess the simple answer is to see if I can. And after finding out I can, to see if I can do it again, but faster! In the marathon, unless you are an elite runner, you are really only running against one opponent – yourself.
But I think there’s more to it. We are a pack animal by nature. We either live together or we die alone (bonus points if you can name that quote). Even for those of us who are loners at heart, we need to know we have a connection to the greater whole. In this age of technology where we are becoming more and more isolated from each other, noses in our crackberries, eyes glued to screens, many of us are losing our connection to each other.
Ironically, it is the solitary sport of running that can bring masses of people together, whether it be by taking advantage of the screens through social networks like dailymile or out on the road as we pound out the miles. Personally, I have found that the longer the distance gets, the friendlier the people get.
I don’t say hello to every person I pass when I am walking around town, BUT when I am out running and I cross paths with another runner, there is almost always an acknowledgement of some kind, whether it be a nod, a wave or even a full-blown greeting. Running does that. It bonds us. Whether we are speed demons running sub-6:00 miles or plodding along steadily at 20:00 per mile, we are all runners, connected and bound together by the ground beneath us.
So when it comes back to that question – Why would you want to do that? – I guess part of my answer is that I simply like the people. Whether they are sub-3:00 marathoners or 7:00 hour marathoners, they get it. They enjoy it. They love it.
They are a little crazy.
Just like me.
Come join our nuthouse. There’s always room for more.
And I promise you won’t have to wear what that guy is wearing.