The Secret of the Marathon, Intent To Run


Every fall, I watch my newsfeed blow up with articles about the marathon. Headlines like, "What I Wish I Knew Before My First Marathon" or I see people sharing this gem, "Every Mistake I Made Before My First Marathon" accompanied with captions of their own fears and doubts.  

It's hard to explain what it's like to watch complete strangers share what they take away from your stories and experiences. Nine times out of ten, it's empowering. But every so often, I just want to give someone a hug or shake them until they admit that they believe in themselves. 

To all my marathoners, I want to talk to you. Before you fall down a black hole of marathon stories and articles, know this; There's only one secret to the marathon. You just have to want it. 

Yes, you have to do the work. Sure, there are videos and articles out there about people who ran a marathon with little or possible no training. Remember that Buzzfeed article about the woman who ran a Boston Marathon qualifying time in something like 4 weeks? I'm not going to link to it because it still rubs me the wrong way. There are incredible athletes out there who are superhuman. I'm not one of them and I reckon you aren't either.

But I'm glad I'm not a super athlete who can pull a marathon out of my ass. The reason I run marathons is because of the magic and transformation that happens in the training. It's incredible to see and experience how setting out to accomplish something you're convinced is impossible can change your life.  

I've run eight marathons now with finishing times ranging everywhere from 5 hours and 34 minutes down to 3 hours and 41 minutes and regardless of how fast or slow you go, the hardest part about running a marathon is training for a marathon. So if you're approaching race day and bursting into tears whenever anyone asks you how you're feeling, trust me when I say that the hardest part is behind you.

But that doesn't mean that race day isn't going to kick your ass and test you. It will. Running a marathon is really, really, really f*king hard. LIKE REALLY F*CKING HARD. I call it the best worst-day of your life because you'll experience pain, fatigue, doubt, joy, and pride like you've never felt in your life. Running a marathon will push you to your breaking point and then ask you what you've got left. 

There really is only one secret to the marathon, you have to want it really f*cking badly. Whether you're running from or towards something, it doesn't matter, it just has to compel you. 

It's impossible to know what kind of day you're in for. The gun may go off and you may feel like you're flying. Or you may look up at mile two and feel crippling dread. Good day, great day, terrible day, or OK day, you have to f*cking want to get to that finish line because the marathon is going to test you.

It's hard not to get caught up in finishing times. I know how important those milestones can be. But regardless of what your A, B, C, or D goals are, remind yourself that showing up to the starting line and then getting to the finish line is a success in and of itself. 

No one runs a marathon just because. Every single person who shows up to that starting line has been to hell and back again. They're running with purpose. They have intent. So when everything hurts and you feel like you're not going to make it, remind yourself what you're running from or towards. Look around and remember that no one is fighting alone. You're all fighting together.  

Marathoners don't just survive, they thrive.

You can and you will.

 You just have to want it. 

Kick ass, take names.