There’s a great line in the movie “Run Fatboy Run.” (If you haven’t seen it, go get it. Now. It’s super-funny, and I’ll be here when you get back.)
Dennis Doyle (played by British actor Simon Pegg) still hasn’t gotten over his ex-fiance, whom he left at the altar, pregnant. Dennis is lamenting to his best friend about all the great attributes of his ex’s new beau (played by the always hilarious Hank Azaria). At the end of the long list, Dennis says, “Oh, and he runs marathons.” His friend quickly responds with only one word: “Why?”
I’m asked this question a LOT: “Why run a marathon?” Or, “I get that you wanted to check the marathon off your half-bucket list, but why do it again?”
The truth is that there are a ton of reasons. . . Running is obviously great exercise, but ‘training’ is about more than fitness. I like having a goal; in fact, I’m better when I have goals. I like a challenge, and the marathon certainly is one. As you may have noticed, I like food – a lot – so it’s nice to eat a cupcake every now and then without worrying about what the scale will say in the morning. There’s also the runner’s high. I am a true addict! Even runs where I feel terrible for the first hour are totally worth 10 minutes of greatness at the end. And, there are very few things that can bring me down after a good, long run. (You should see me after a marathon!!!)
These reasons usually don’t surprise people, but there is another aspect of training that people often don’t know about or understand. Yet, it is – above all else – the reason to run. . .
Borrowing words from one of the running greats, Amby Burfoot:
When we run, we are already so exposed, often nearly naked in our shorts and T-shirts, huffing and puffing, purified by the effort. Briefly removed from the defenses and secrets we maintain in so much of our lives, we feel less need to hide our private thoughts, loves, fears, and stresses. We share.
I have trained with some of the most amazing people over the past year. We are from vastly different ages and walks of life — doctors, accountants, teachers, mothers (and fathers), pilots, lawyers, college students, and retirees. Yet, when we run, we are the same.
We train in the wee hours of the morning. There is no makeup at 5:00 a.m. And, even if there was, it’s too dark to notice.
You can’t count on your appearance to make a first impression. Without the window dressings that we so often hide behind, you have no choice but to be yourself.
No one is awake enough to fret about what they say or how they say it. Without hesitation, I speak my mind when I run, which is probably why I feel like my running friends know me best.
They are tremendously dedicated. On mornings when the alarm clock startles me out of a comatic slumber, the last thing I want to do is get out from under the heating blanket, put on a gazillion layers of clothes, and go hang out in the cold. But, I know that there are people counting on me. People who also didn’t want to get out of bed, but did it anyway because they know that I am counting on them.
Last, but certainly not least, they are some of the most loyal people I know. They always remember what is going on in your life, and never miss a beat in asking how things turned out. They give great pep talks when you need advice. And, they would go to bat for you in just about any situation, which is quite comforting when you’re dodging cars in the dark. 🙂
So, to all my non-running friends or aspiring runners: If you think you don’t ‘get’ the whole running thing, try joining a group. The bonds you will form and friendships you will make may surprise you — so much so that, one day, you might even forget that you’re running and just think of this time as your own little happy hour to catch up with old friends.
And, to all my running buddies: Thank you.