In “Why are you doing this?” Figuring out the motivation a blog from last Spring I touched on some of the reasons why I run. Here I wrote, “It’s a good question for any of us runners to be able to answer. The answer is a living being subjective and fluid to life’s changes and progression so the answer you once had could be a different answer the next time you’re questioned so it’s good to keep track. I first ran in February 2013 when my motivation was simple. I wanted to run so that I could chase happiness like Kilian Jornet and one day run the Olympus Marathon. It gave me cause to start what KJ calls the search for happiness.” So I run Marathon’s for happiness.
However, why a Marathon? It could have easily been a mile-a-day challenge, a 5k Parkrun or a local 10k event but I specifically chose that February to run a Marathon in 10 months and did so with the completion of Portsmouth Marathon in December 2015. A fair amount of runners will set their sites on the Marathon. There must be a reason for this because as I’ve found out over the course of eight Marathons it’s not easy to run one and it doesn’t get any easier the more of them you do despite what they tell you.
If I tell myself “I want to run a Marathon in ten months” that’s an end goal. Motivation will break that down into a training plan. That training plan forms the basis of the manageable chunks that most people forget about when they set down a task or resolution. Once that’s in place, after the initial shock of getting into the fitness levels and nutrition required, the momentum of excitement starts building. Nothing can get in your way now. After a few test races you’re nearly there. Before you know it it’s the big day and you’ve become a small percentage of people that have run a Marathon.
If you tell anyone else “I want to run a Marathon in ten months” they don’t see all that. They see a peppering of activities and photos on their time line as litter and glance by it throwing the occasional like your way unless they are runners themselves. What Marathon running does is activate your will power muscle. That muscle that gets you up at 6am to run which no one really is going to appreciate but you on the big day. They’ll make helpful statements like, “you can’t quit smoking and run a Marathon,” or “why won’t you come out and get blasted tonight?” or “you’re just plain crazy”. They just can’t fathom it and probably won’t until they attempt it themselves. It’s a form of ultimate human challenge – you and your body are the only ways you’ll complete it.
So to many the Marathon is a display of what can be done and what cannot be done on the pure basis of human will power. It puts two fingers up to anyone who ever told you you couldn’t or shouldn’t. It allows a positive “can do” mind to take reign. It provides all important self confidence that you just can’t get going for a casual lap of the block. No one will ever be able to take that experience away from you.
That medal is a shield against anyone that ever put you down, told you couldn’t, your own self doubt, your own anxiety. It is a symbol of fitness, health, dedication, an experience remembered to the end of your days. You did that. So for many the reason why is the adrenaline of the challenge when shorter races are the steps up to that challenge.