Why You Should Run a Marathon (seriously)

The San Francisco Marathon Start
The San Francisco Marathon Start

I have become one of those annoying “hey-I-ran-a-marathon-so-should-you” types.

If you’ve never had an inkling to run a marathon, if the thought of it bores you to no end, or makes you nauseous. then read no further. But if you’ve ever had even the slightest thought of it, let me give a quick rundown on why I think you should sign up. Now.

I signed up for the San Francisco Wipro marathon five months ago, when I was in better running shape. And, I’ve kinda lost that over the last three months: work–and particularly travel–crushed my running schedule. So going into the weekend I decided to step down to the half marathon…until I checked in where I decided to do the full. There were lots of mistakes with this last marathon, including going out way too strong, and the last 11 miles were a serious struggle–I have a lessons learned on this one coming soon.

Yet, one of the gifts of the last 11 miles was that it caused me to think about why I even love marathons–despite being so frustrated and “uncomfortable” on this last one.

Not an all inclusive list, here’s what went through my mind during those last 11 miles as to why I love marathons. And you will (might) too.

1. Check in is a blast.

Adrenaline. All these runners with the anticipation and energy of the next-day race. Check in is a great experience, it’s a blast because you’re still a day away from pain. This is the fun part, anticipation, carb loading, butterflies, all that stuff! Really great energy. Check in is totally underrated.

SF Marathon Check In
SF Marathon Check In

2. Training shapes you.

Years ago, I started playing the guitar. “Playing” is probably gracious. Strumming? Plucking? Screeching? I could play a few songs. And sing along. Horribly. Truly, I am horrible horrible singer. And the last time I touched that guitar was three start-ups ago…But when I was playing a lot I swear it changed my thought process–as if playing music started mapping my brain differently. Yes, there is probably data on this. No, I do not want to google it. I just want to write. Leave me alone. 🙂

I think running does something similar, though not through the same mechanism. Running will map you differently, perhaps less because of how sound and dexterity maps your brain and more because you’re going to have time to think. And if you’re doing the proper training, a lot of it. So get your miles in! It’s part of what shapes you, the discipline of training. And your mind will be open to thoughts and ideas that never have time to germinate in quite the same way otherwise.

3. You get to break limits. Your own limits. 

Especially if you don’t think you can run a marathon, but you kind of want to, you should do it. Because it’s a breakable limit. When you break it, your perspective will change. About yourself. You will be less boxed in, less risk averse, and less timid on the next challenge. Which might not have anything to do with running–that’s cool. But do it once and I think it’ll change your mindset on your limits.

It's You vs. You
It’s You vs. You

4. You’ll be inspired during the race.

Perhaps by watching someone that you never thought would run a marathon run alongside of you. Maybe by some guy carrying the American flag whilst playing country music out of his iPhone. Perhaps by a father and son combination, shirtless and running in front of you.

It might even be the playing of the National Anthem at the beginning of the race. Or magical scenery throughout the run.

I promise, you’ll be inspired. Somewhere along the way. In a big way. By someone. Something. Or even yourself.

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

5. You’ll fall in love with new music. 

Since you need to have tunes. A lot of them. Some swear by not listening to music in a marathon. I, on the other hand, have to listen to music. This latest playlist included Jeff Bridges (frequent favorite), Kaskade (newer all time favorite–especially after hearing him perform live in LA), The Civil Wars (hoping they stay together!), and a pretty eclectic smattering of other artists.

And, of course, every marathon has to have a “song” that’s basically your Power Song. And every marathon has a different one (these are just my rules, if you’re running then you get to create your own). I just learned of these guys from Pandora (have I told anybody how much I LOVE Pandora? Did you buy your ad-free version yet?), and here’s my SF Marathon power song.

6. You’ll get healthier in the process.

You’ll eat better, you’ll learn more about your body, you might even fall in love with the Nutribullet (does ANYBODY know how much I love this thing? Kale as the base…always Kale as the base then fruit after it’s half full). Your metabolism will increase, bodyfat will decrease. But, still, you have to watch what you eat–weight is 70% managed in the kitchen. You’ll feel better.

I LOVE the Nutribullet
I LOVE the Nutribullet

7. You might replace one affliction with another one.

Pretty self explanatory. Some people think runners are obsessive, or caution about the ills of finding a new addiction. Generally, this is probably a good thing and better than the alternative. I wish I were more obsessive about running, but I’m getting closer. For the most part, I don’t have much of a dial–it’s more of an on/off switch.

In the process of training, you might find yourself with a new affliction.

8. You’ll see some clothing that nobody should be wearing. And that will amuse you. 

And, if you do wear long pants that show every crevice of your booty body, especially if you are a guy, please make sure you’re running close to a three hour marathon rather than a four. I mean, really… 🙂 But, I guess, you know, if you’re running your marathon, each to their own…


 9. Nothing beats crossing the finish line.

And it doesn’t matter who is there, if anyone at all, to greet you. Or even your time, especially if it’s your first. Yes, for sure it’s awesome to get a personal record, or have friends or family there–two of the three marathons have had my wife and RoZo waiting for me, which was great. But one of them I was in Phoenix, by myself, and in some ways it was just as gratifying. Because there’s something internal about running one of these. If you don’t know whether you’ll have anyone at the finish line, sign up anyways. And tell me you’re running it. You can call me after the marathon and I’ll be someone that gives you a virtual hug and high five. But you won’t need it.


Finally finished...
Finally finished…


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