Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why you should run a marathon.

When I was in my 30's I was kind of a work out fanatic. For a period of four or five years I ran several triathalons, 5k's, and finally a marathon and when I wasn't actually competing I was spending more time and mental energy than I should have worrying about how to shave 3 minutes off my swim time. So that really hot set of abs I had was bought with a fair amount of self absorption, but then nothing in life is free, and while I still like to think Im easing into my mid 40's in better shape than most Im not doing anything like the mileage I used to and I've conceded that the six pack is gone, never to come again. I blame beer.

But I don't think I'll ever come to understand the hint of glee so many non athletes take in finding any suggestion that perhaps the whole boom in marathons and other distance events might be over stated with regards to subsequent health benefits. Today its the Wall St. Journal that apparently has nothing better to do than wonder if the running a marathon is really "worth it" or not.

Look, the boom in marathons have obviously drawn in a lot of people who are seduced by the event itself rather than the lifestyle. They make the attempt hoping that it will change them into the better selves they want to be and that's asking the wrong question. There is no special transformative magic in marathons in and of themselves anymore so than there is in saying you're going to quit smoking. The benefit lies ultimately in the commitment and not the singular event so if you can't keep it up then of course nothing much is going to happen. Don't we already know this?

So no, Im not running 45 miles a week anymore and probably never will. But I learned something in the effort that I don't think I could possibly have learned otherwise and I refer to it frequently. I learned that more often than not it is not the pain you are in that makes you quit.
Its that pain combined with the fear of what's coming that makes you quit. In the moment you are in, you are almost always okay. Stay in your moment and you can take the pain.

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