A few days ago, I was having dinner with a group, and someone mentioned that their son had run a marathon without any training. Apparently, he was going to train, but never got around to it, so decided to run the whole thing anyway. Upon hearing this, another woman chimed in that she herself had done this once or twice. Once, without running farther than five miles in training, she made it through the whole 26.2. Another time, she hadn’t run at all for two months prior. “I just told myself,” she said, “that was what I was doing that morning–running. It’s all mental, anyway.”
As this conversation took place, I oooh-ed and ahhh-ed with the best of them. But what I was really thinking was: Poor things. They totally missed the point.
The thing is, I think anyone could run a marathon without training. Well, not anyone, but someone with a good fitness base who really wanted to could definitely run a marathon. My CrossFit husband, for example, hardly ever runs more than one mile at a time. But I have no doubt that he could physically run a marathon this very weekend, if he wanted to. He won’t, though. Because he respects the process.
A marathon is not a one-day thing. Training for a marathon is not a means to an end. Running a marathon is a process. When I crossed the finish line of the OKC Memorial Marathon, I was grinning from ear to ear. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I felt so proud of myself. And not just because I’d sucked it up and run for 4.5 hours that one single morning, but because, for the last five months I had committed myself to a goal. It got tough. There were runs, days, weeks even that I didn’t want to finish–I didn’t think I could finish. But I persevered. And I kept training. I discovered new running paths. I listened to countless Jillian Michaels podcasts. I ran in snowstorms and rain; I ran at 4:30am and at 9:30pm. Day after day after day I proved to myself that I. could. do. this. (…for much longer than just 4.5 hours one morning.)
Marathon running taught me that I have the drive and dedication to work hard every day for the sake of my goals. And now? I take that lesson with me everywhere I go. Any time something gets hard, or seems impossible, I tell myself: I am a marathoner. I can do this.