For most of my life I have been an incurable optimist. I live by the motto that “ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.” Running has only enhanced my positivity about life, a thousandfold. As I have stated before, I almost always resemble a piece of burnt toast after completing a marathon. However, distance running contributes to a phenomenal increase in your overall health, fitness, well-being and quality of life and when I consider these things, my favorite quote once again fills me with joy:
“Every person, no matter how unfit he or she is, can rise a little higher, go a little faster, and grow a little stronger. The joy of surpassing the limits of the body is open to all.”
– Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmilhaly from his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Running, and the marathon, offers each person and even playing field, no matter your age, sex, size, ability, disability, social status or financial status. Stride for stride, side-by-side, you all begin at the same line. There may be some other activity in this world that offers such parity and joy for the human race, but if there is, I certainly cannot think of one.
So the question I propose to you is, was the marathon you just ran the only one you will ever run? Are you a “one-and-done-er”? All I can say is that I truly hope that you’ve caught on to the amazing benefits and experiences of distance running so that you stick with it for the rest of your life.
Before you decide to hang up your sneakers, consider the benefits. Here are Dr. George Sheehan’s thoughts on this topic from his book, George Sheehan On Running To Win:
Finishing a marathon leads to increased energy, dedication, discipline, and a belief that you can make a difference. It’s easy to see why. Getting ready for a marathon is like getting ready for combat. Its preparation is basic training. Marathoners begin their training as raw recruits, then emerge, still untried, at the top of their physical powers. This is where dedication and discipline are born and energy results. They have gone through purification. They have attained dominance of the body. The first-time marathoner may be ‘combat ready’ but has no concept of how terrible the combat will be. The veteran runner knows that the marathon takes the body to the limits – and beyond. The newcomer is in store for pain and fatigue he or she has never felt – or even imagined – before. And both the veteran and the first-timer worry that they won’t have the mental toughness to carry it off. But if the runner does have what it takes, a new self is born. By enduring this 26.2 mile agony, the runner achieves the physical, mental, and spiritual virtues and strengths that make a successful player in life.
As for myself, I choose running as a way of life and I hope you do too. Enjoy the journey, one stride at a time.