10 Reasons Why ‘Marathon’ Should Be On Everyone’s Bucket List
I ran my first marathon what seems like a million years ago, at the tender age of 25. While young professionals were asleep at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, I was out on the streets working ten or 15 or 20 miles, trying to balance speed with time with the number of chocolate-flavored energy shots I had left. I still remember the feeling of crossing the finish line; I was sweaty and dying and exhausted but not out of breath, because my legs had stopped agreeing to carry me at a speed fast enough to render me breathless about six miles ago. There were tears and hugs and I felt like I was on top of the world. But that feeling of glory and accomplishment isn’t even one of the first reasons why I think “marathon” should be on everyone’s bucket list…a few more of them are listed below.
1 - Your Legs will be Toned
Can we talk about this for a minute? If there’s any one way to get seriously toned calves, it’s to repeatedly use that same part of your body nonstop for 4+ hours at a time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my skinny jeans (yes I have some) were feeling a little resistance in that area throughout my training period…. Not only will your body begin to feel better with the increased amounts of physical activity you’re doing, it’ll begin to look amazing too.
2 - You learn to keep going when you just want to freaking quit already.
There are going to be times during marathon training (and the marathon!) that you just want to quit, Done that!. That you want to lie down on someone’s lawn, Done that! — look up at the sky, say “What the hell did I get myself into,” and close your eyes for a good four or five hours. But the thing is, you can’t — well you shouldn’t. Your support team—because no one ever trains for a marathon alone—won’t let you – go Fitters!. You have to keep going. And this lesson can be, of course, taken out of this context and applied to all areas of life, including but not limited to standardized tests, conversations with the in-laws, essay writing, and general work/schooling.Did I mention the in-laws.
3 - Bragging Rights - Of course!
Completing a marathon is no small feat. It’s shown that only a very small percent of the world’s population will run a marathon in their lifetime. So, being able to say “I ran the Marine Corps Marathon” at the next family dinner with aforementioned in-laws? Yes please. Just be prepared to not be a smarty when they ask how long was it, or did you win.
4 - Speaking of bragging rights, they’re also a huge confidence booster.
This was a big one for me. I didn’t run over that finish line a changed person, but a more complex one. I ran over that finish line an adult athlete, a part of myself that I created out of nothing. There’s something confidence-giving about being able to say that you ran a marathon, that you’re capable of something so extreme and amazing.
5 - You realize that not everything in life is a competition
While marathoning is definitely a community affair at times, it’s also very much an independent sport. Unless you’re one of the elite runners, the only person you should be aiming to beat is yourself. Beat your own 10K time, beat your own fatigue, beat your goals to death. Because the truth is, it’s not a race. The man who finished 100 runners ahead of you trained just as hard and worked just as much to accomplish the same goal as you. Don’t see other runners as your competition, but as your allies. Because the truth is, even the most seemingly-obvious things in life are not a race.
6 - You learn to love yourself.
Body insecurity is fortunately not something everyone has to deal with, but it obviously does exist. Let me make one thing clear: when you’re running, it does not matter what you look like. Don’t be afraid to wear fitted t-shirts because you have a bit of a belly. Don’t avoid running caps because you have a “flat head.” You learn to appreciate what you have—strong legs that can carry you 26.2 miles—rather than worrying about how they look.
7 - Two words: elevator pitches. (More Fitters!)
You’ll meet many different types of people over the course of your marathon training (runners who are up at the butt crack of dawn just like you, people who walk the same trails that you run) and you’re inevitably going to have to trade elevator pitches with some people at some point. If there’s anything marathoning will teach you, it’s how to make yourself sound like a compelling, interesting, decent human being in 200 words or less.
8 - It makes everything else seem easier by comparison.
If you can wake up at 6:45 on a Saturday morning to do your long runs, you can handle your 5-year-old’s tantrums. If you can put on five layers and survive an 11-mile-run in the dead of winter, you can ace that oral presentation at work. Once you do something as rigorous and demanding as train for a marathon, everything else—the everyday obstacles you face, the little issues that come up—don’t seem as bad anymore.
9 - The power of mental toughness
It may seem counterintuitive, but a large part of completing a marathon stems from your ability to stay strong mentally. You know from the training that you can do the miles, but towards the end of the 26 when you want to give up, mental stamina is what will keep you going. Never underestimate the power of mental toughness in your day to day life, because it will take you farther than you know.
10 - The community is one of the most special and unique that you will ever be a part of
There’s no test that you have to pass to be able to run a marathon (well, except for perhaps a doctor’s OK, and for Fitters a three mile time trial…). This means that marathoning is something that’s open and available to the majority of people. Throughout my time as a marathoner, I’ve met people from all walks of life; I’ve met teachers, freelancers, musicians, and vice principals, weirdo’s and fun people too. If there’s any reason to put “marathon” on your bucket list, it’s to do it for the community that will work with you to make sure that you cross that start line with confidence and finish feeling like you’ve just accomplished something extraordinary.
Keep the Pace,