Somebody once said that climbing Everest is a challenge, but the bigger challenge would be to climb it and not tell anybody. The same is probably true for running a marathon.
Would you admit that you’re only running a marathon to brag about it? No matter why we run marathons, they assume a high level of importance for anyone who sets their sights on completing the 26.2 miles. Perhaps that’s because in attempting to conquer the distance we have to overcome personal and physical challenges – it’s not just about the miles in our legs.
Think about what training for a marathon entails for a moment. There’s long runs and easy runs, you might do some speedwork as well. Then there’s sleep and eating well to think about, juggling training with work and family commitments, dealing with chaffing, and perhaps visits to the physio for various running-related disorders. You also need to plan your race day: the kit, the pace you’ll run where you need to be and when, and what gels, jelly babies or other stuff you’ll use to get you to the finish. Then on the day itself, you need strength, determination and sheer willpower to push yourself onwards to the finish line through the unrelenting exhaustion, because whether you are an elite runner completing the marathon in two hours or a first-timer taking six hours we all hurt the same.
No wonder taking on a marathon becomes of such importance to us. From the moment we sign up to run the 26.2 mile distance until the aches and pains of race day have faded it can, and does, consume our every waking hour – and some non-waking hours as well, I can’t be the only one who’s dreamt of missing the start or turning up in inappropriate footwear.
Everyone has their own motivation, whether it’s to raise money for a charity close to their heart or to see how far they can push their body. While I may say that I do it for the challenge – can I improve on last time – I have to admit that I like the kudos that running a marathon gives me.
Perhaps, therefore, ego is a part of every marathon runner whether we like it or not. After all, don’t we post our training runs online or share finish line photos of ourselves with our medal or that post-marathon reward?
So I ask you, could you run, and train for, a marathon, and not tell anyone? I don’t think I could, but apparently, it’s been done.