Why would you run a marathon?
Before i run the marathon for the first time, i struggle to find a logical enough reason to explain my purpose in doing so. I blabber out reasons like… justforfunlah! seehowlor! which makes no sense. After i finished running the marathon, the answer is clear.
Why should we even explain ourselves? Those whom run it will know the reason why.
Everyone runs for distinct reason(s) unique to their life.
After 5 years of running, I’m just like anyone else, a leisure runner. When I’m happy I’ll run more, when i feel ‘high’ i run bit faster. I don’t do 150km per week neither do i run most of my runs at race pace. Like you and every other runner out there trotting away in the year of the goat, i firmly believed slow and steady shall prevail in the long run (literally).
There are 5 things I’ve learn through Marathon running. Here we go:
1. It’s as unique race.
When you started your running regime, you ran from 1km to 2.4km to 4km to 5km, so on and so forth. Thereafter, you train for a 10k race, subsequently to a 21km race. You complete these races. You look back at your effort for 21km and in your mind, you must be thinking ‘crazy man, how to run 42km?!’ A marathon is long, not as long as a ultramarathon, not as short as a 21km race. This distance could be deadly if you didn’t prepare for it. But even if you did, the training promises nothing 100%. It doesn’t mean that you train well for it, during race day you’ll shine and clock your personal best. Why? In my opinion, its more of a mental than a physical race. A marathon is unpredictable. For a leisure runner with minimal talent, we can only afford so much time, without compromising personal commitments. And that the fun part of it. The distance is fixed, ultimately it depends on yourself. Your peers could help you get there, but on race day you are on your own (even with your peers around you).
2. You are stronger than you think.
I remember when i first started running, i always find myself sprinting the final 200m to the finishing line. When i finished the race, i pant like crazy and wonder why would I have so much energy at the end. Is that really andrenaline kicking in? Could it be your speed trainings and negative split trainings aiding that last 200m? Could it be pure luck? Could it be you’re rushing to the portaloo? They say that after 30km, you would hit the wall. True. They say after 35km, you will run out of energy and walk all the way to the end. True too. Now, look back at your training, what is the longest run you did prior to the marathon? Probably 30-35k? During your longest run, you would probably include some water breaks, walking, waiting at traffic lights etc. Look, during race day, you are likely to run nonstop and even after passing your longest training run mark, you continue to trot, push yourself and finish with a florish at the finishing line with a smile.
3. No short cut, sheer hardwork is required.
Recently I was privileged to know some top distance athletes in Singapore whom were humble to share their training schemes with me. They did 180km in their PEAK week. Like what?!?! So there you have it. The kenyans do 2xx km per week to get the speed for a marathon. You get what you sow. Its pretty obvious. Even with talent, hardwork is still required. As most runs ain’t at marathon race pace, I would think you need to get used to the distance that’s required, forcing your body to understand 42km manageable at a pace you wouldn’t typically run during your long run. During my training, i’ll usually run the final 10km of my long run at race pace. Thats about it. Lots of training is required if you wish to do well in a marathon. If i run once a week, i shouldn’t be expecting myself to complete a marathon with ease. For me that is…
4. The best had yet to come.
The final 5km is always the most torturous journey during a marathon race. Your body is depleted and you are practically using every ounce of your mental energy, the runners around you, the support crew along the way, to egg you on. In the final 200m, you do your best to cross the line with a big wide smile. But you know in your mind, and you are absolutely sure, the moment you cross that line, you’ll do better in your next marathon. Some might say ‘ahhhh no more marathons in a while’, most of the time, they’ll do another the following year or in half a year! #runnerslie . Its akin to studying for an exam. When you scored 75 marks in your maths, your confidence rises and you feel, maybe, just maybe if i work abit harder, I’ll get 80. Is that possible? Of course! Is it attainable? You bet.
5. Management of life comparison.
This is pretty personal. To me, i compare running a marathon with a normal person living his/her life from birth till the end of life. Basically when you started off running the first 10km, you tell yourself you got this, you make sure your effort is steady, pace is steady and this is the part you smiled the most. This is similar to the first 20 years of your life. Basically everything is planned out for you. Your life is usually smooth flowing and there’s little cause for concern as there are always support around you. Sometimes you need them, sometimes you don’t (same as the water points in the first 10km :p). When you start your 11km to the half marathon mark, you still want to ensure a steady effort, but you realised its not as easy compared to the first 10km. Same with your life, from age 20-40, you find yourself grappling with making decisions of your own. Choosing and evaluating your partner, finding a suitable apartment, doing renovation, finding and retaining the right peers in your life. While you find your self having to make decisions of your own, you can still count on the peers around you and yes you will always count on them for a second opinion now, be it your family, your friends or colleagues. The 21-30km mark can be the most daunting to some. Mentally you know you have completed half of it but there’s another half to go. Some start to fatigue midway through and saw their pace dragged away. Some took this opportunity to make up for loss time while managing their expectation and making plans for the final 10km. This is similar to a person’s life. When you are 40, everything seems to come to a stand still. For some, age is a concern and just looking at the numbers ‘4’ and ‘0’ together is daunting enough. For others, they start making plans, they made friends with younger peeps, get involved in running more and being healthy, start making plans for family while managing other commitments. Then come the final 10km (i once had a friend whom told me a marathon was 40km, last 2km on andrenaline so don’t count them in). Your legs are heavy, you feel like dying but you know if you slow down now you’ll crash to a point of no return. In life, when you are past 60, i would pressume peeps just want to take it easy and ‘crash’ in their comfortable sofa and enjoy a retired lifestyle. This contrast is what motivates me in the final 10km. I am not 60 now and i will not be 60 anytime soon. I usually ran the last 10km faster than the first 30km by inducing this concept into my brain. I could run less (maybe even retired from running) when I’m 60, but that time has yet to come.
There will always be non runners whom when they knew you run marathons, come asking for your timings. And when you tell them the timing, the first look of their face betrayed whatever they wish to say in the next instance. Why? They use their 2.4km timing and start multiplying, without taking into fatigue into consideration. They will never understand the above points unless……
They run a Marathon.
Image credit: 123rf.com