This is a question I get a lot. I ran my last “longest long run” on Monday and will begin to taper from here until the big day. The 3.5 hours and 22.5 miles gave me plenty of time to reflect on this question: What is so great about training?
Almost anyone can strap on a pair of tennis shoes and walk/run/jog/crawl 26.2 miles in one day. It might not be pretty and it may take 26.2 hours, but it can be done. No training required.
A few select people hope to finish in the top of their age groups, make a qualifying time or even win the entire race and set a world record. This will undoubtedly take some training.
But what about those of us somewhere in between? Why all of the effort and hours of running, stretching and cross training just to finish in the middle of the pack?
The answer, I’ve decided, is that running a marathon isn’t so much about race day – it’s about everything else leading up to it. Not to toot my own horn, but over the past few months I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve been up at 4:45 am in 15 degree weather just to jog. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone to ask friends and strangers alike to donate to a cause I care deeply about. I’ve made new friends out on the running trails. I’ve practiced discipline, drive and devotion. I’ve learned to listen to my body and treat it well, all while pushing it to the limits. Over the past few months, I’ve grown as a runner and a person, and I feel pretty good about that.
As this experience comes to an end, I feel stronger, more confident, and prouder of myself than ever before. I will cross that finish line at whatever time I do knowing that I’ve done my best, given it my all and had tons of support all along the way.
For me, turning a hobby into a challenge and pushing outside my comfort zone is exactly what is so great about marathon training – regardless of what happens on race day.