Friday, June 27, 2008

You pay money to do this?

A friend asked me whether you have to pay to run a marathon. When I said yes, she asked whether it was around $5. No, I told her, closer to $100. She couldn't comprehend paying hard earned cash to put yourself through the rigours of running 26.2 miles (or 10K for that matter).

None of my friends run. None of them remotely see the appeal.

My wife would like to run but she has back problems and her doctor told her to cut running from her exercise routine. She recently re-introduced short distances so she could run last week's race. However, even she is constantly questioning my desire to run a marathon. Her biggest fear is that I'll get injured.

So, this got me thinking. Why am I doing this? Why a marathon?

Some days, I think the answer is similar to that of the proverbial question, "Why climb the mountain?". Because it is there.

But, really, it's more than that. I started running because I wanted to improve my health and fitness. I got a gym membership and there were plenty of options for exercising. However, long term motivation was always a challenge. It was too easy to skip a day or two, or even weeks at a time.

But with running, there are races. The race provides that line in the sand, a benchmark, a goal. It was an immovable point that forced me to reach a certain level of fitness. It provided a measurable challenge and a public one. Letting others know of your intent certainly adds to the motivation to achieve the goal.

Each step of the way, the challenges have become tougher. In the beginning, running 10K was a significant achievement. It would take me 3 months to be "race-ready". Then I decided to do a triathlon. The fact that I could barely swim was only a minor inconvenience. Then came a half marathon. Which leads to my latest challenge.

But, besides being in it for the challenge, I simply enjoy running. Not only that, I like treadmill running which puts me in a small club. I don't find it boring like many do. I enjoy the solitude, the "me" time, the time to let my thoughts wander.

By the time I complete this marathon quest, there's a risk I may not enjoy running as much (like that short period of time during my last half), but for me the marathon has a certain mystique. Even if those around me don't share in the sentiment.

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