Why Run a Marathon?
Distance Running Forces You to Focus on Well-Being
You'll Better Understand Your Own Health
There will be those naysayers who tell you marathons are too extreme, and yes there are stories of people who wreck their legs or experience worse, like suffering cardiac arrest. But usually these are freak cases or related to poor preparation and a conflict where the body is being asked to do too much, i.e. it's not ready.
You'll notice this watching an event that stragglers and walkers are at the back for a reason: they didn't make running a habit and even though in my book they are still heroes for trying, even if they perhaps didn't take themselves seriously enough.
You'll of course need to consult a medical professional before embarking on a momentous training schedule. This conversation alone will be a good benchmark for how you begin. Yet when monitoring your own well-being it's too obvious to say you'll get fitter and lose weight, it's an achievable short-term goal for sure, and one that will show you a way forward as a confidence boost.
Fundamentally the true goal, long-term, is to create a mindset where you become aware of what you need to do for better health all the time, through looking after your bones, muscles and joints and what you put in your body to fuel your energy output. The concept of a marathon is that it's long, often arduous and frequently testing, so by completing one with it's attendant training schedule means you will have to look more in-depth than doing it to lose a few pounds. This re-education never leaves you and you'll remain forever health conscious.
Using a Lot of Energy Means Viewing Food as Fuel
You'll Find Out What Diet Is For
By energizing yourself with food you'll learn acutely that it works as body fuel and to optimize your training and condition you'll need nutrition. Naturally this includes carbs for the engine, to keep you going, and protein for muscle repair. Plus of course plenty of vegetables, fruit and water.
Eating right may be something you thought you knew, but when you have to have the right things to make you function better for performance, then you understand the magic difference between diet as what you eat (noun) as opposed to diet as a way of losing calories (verb). The latter never really works, because you're trusting a system that (thinks it) knows more than you do. By diving in and re-educating yourself that food is fuel, you'll appreciate it a lot more as well.
Running Long Distance is a Form of Meditation
You'll Be Able to Sort Your Head Out
Running a long way creates a kind of meditation and focus that can become deeply personal and important. While many – normally faster – runners will vouch that they're concentrating only to improve their performance, there is so much distance, that at some point you'll start to cherish the valuable thinking time.
You'll be geeing yourself up anyway, egging yourself on either internally or verbally, and as cheesy or as tongue-in-cheek as this sounds you'll literally be at the coalface of you, digging in and dealing with unwanted thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Reclaim a Younger Body
You'll Look and Feel Younger
By following a training schedule you'll force the issue of studying what you need to do before and after an event, so setting yourself on the track for health awareness in your maturer years. Running is something anyone with legs can do, whatever your age, even if you just walk and jog round the block.
Although we can't hold back the course of time, we can improve the quality of our course by getting our blood pumping to nourish our physiques, improving our stamina and posture and getting the odd high. Not to mention realizing that smoking, drinking heavily and eating too many party food treats like cake, winter stodge like pie and sofa-bound takeaways such as pizza need a major rethink. Ultimately, running a lot makes you slimmer, more svelte and sexier, and this is great for self confidence. They call it comfort food because fat equals fear.
Aiming for full-blooded fearlessness, not only will you be naturally having less of the things that are bad for you and age your appearance, you'll be drinking three times as much water and seeing it's replenishing benefits to your skin, figure and mobility.
You'll Become More Resilient
Athletes will tell you that injuries come with the territory of training to better yourself. Even with the best intentions and being careful things can happen. The upshot of this is that you develop a keen sense for how to pick yourself up, purely by feeling low from not training and wanting to carry on the momentum of positives from being healthier generally.
From triumphs, setbacks, peak activity and rest periods there will come a self awareness for being your own sports doctor while practicing better warming up and down, stretching, massage and injury prevention exercise like strength training and post injury physiotherapy like rehabilitation.
Boost Your General Happiness Aiming for Your Big Run Goal
You'll Develop a More Purposeful Outlook
It's been proven that physical exercise is good for the heart, soul and mind, and with all the motivators in this list being ticked then the only way is up. The meaning for doing them then becomes obvious. If you are prone to dark mood swings like me, then there's nothing like getting out the road or trail to focus on something else and clear the mind.
You won't help but smile once you start literally going past milestones and reaching distances you hadn't done before. There is also joy when when you share these achievements with running buddies and supportive friends. But more than this there is a sense of personal history, which is something purely for you to keep in your heart and memory. You may not be able to run a marathon in just over two hours, or even four, but that's not the point, it's about going beyond competition and tapping into mindset to help you take on life's other challenges as well.
© 2018 Jonny Wills