This statement is so poignant, for that is what days, weeks, and months of training does to a person, it changes them. How can it not? Training usually begins after successful attempts at shorter race distances, and I would venture to say that most marathoners uttered the words, “I could never do a full marathon” at some point in their early running career. I know I did, and if you’re reading this, you likely did too.
This is the crux of the marathon transformation. When we complete a full marathon, we accomplish what we never thought possible. We put all of that practice training to use. We made mistakes in our training along the way on purpose, so as to avoid these mistakes at our marathon race. We left for practice runs in the wee hours of the morning, typically before anyone else in the house was anywhere near waking up. We toted along various hydration tools like belts, handheld bottles, or backpacks. We experimented with different liquids other than water and different forms of food or energy boosters in the form of chews, gu, or whole food. We watched our pace for each mile and got a clear picture of how long it would take us to run that full marathon come race day. We experienced overuse injuries from all of our training and we scaled our running back and began the tapering process. We had to fit these long training runs in around our work and family schedules. Often squeezing the run and shower in before we strapped ourselves into our cars to drive our children to their sporting or extracurricular events. We often left parties or get-togethers early so as to get enough sleep for the next morning’s long run. We often struggled on those practice long runs. We often doubted our ability to pull this whole marathon race thing off. We nearly gave up, at least once, but we didn’t. We kept fighting. We kept believing in ourselves. We kept going. One foot in front of the other. We kept going.
This desire to push past the limitations we’ve set upon ourselves through our self-doubt is what changes us. In many ways we are still that little girl or boy who feared she wasn’t enough. We are that kid that needed a niche, some way to gain a sense of accomplishment from hard work. We want to be enough. Training for a marathon makes us feel like we are enough. We often didn’t feel like lacing up and heading out the door. We often wanted to cut our run short and go home. We kept going, even when friends, family members, and acquaintances said we were crazy, because we knew this marathon training was much more impactful on our lives than just preparation for a race. We knew we were changing and we knew we would better for it. This is why, I truly believe that running is like no other form of fitness. Runners are their own breed. Missing a week of fitness is much different than missing a week of running. Runners never want to have to stop running. We truly wish that the solution to running injuries would be to run more. Being told we need to stop running for even a week is like a death sentence to us. We need to feel movement in the form of running to feel complete. It is our time to meditate, pray, solve problems, appreciate nature, show gratitude for all of our blessings, and brainstorm. Running gives us that one thing we need and we are so grateful for the gift of running. All one has to do is introduce two runners to each other and the pair will talk like they’ve known each other for years. There is an instant camaraderie that comes with running, and perhaps that little girl in me that needed a niche is most appreciative of this. Runners are bonded. We are a community. We have been through the running transformation.
As I prepare for my second marathon, I realize how training for marathons has changed my life forever. I am different. I am stronger. I am bonded in a community. I am enough.