"I NEVER want to do that again.”
I gasped to my wife upon crossing the finish line of my third marathon days after my 40th birthday. I was in pain. Everywhere. I was nauseous. Terribly. I was so weak I could have crumpled to sleep on the cold concrete beneath me. And worse, I was utterly beaten. My will had been crushed.
A marathon is tough. I've written about that before. To understand a little more of why I say that, you might go back and read this link.
I did run one more marathon fifteen months after the above mentioned race. I may run another someday. But no time soon.
“Daddy, did you ever win a marathon?” asked my youngest when he was six. “No, Daddy isn’t fast enough to ever win. But I don’t feel like I’ve done my best, Buddy. That’s why I might run one again. The marathon beat me; I didn’t beat the marathon.”
To this point, four marathons completed, somewhere between miles 20-24 and three to three and a half hours of running I knew I was beaten. I stopped pushing. I dropped my pace. I walked when I felt I could no longer run. I settled for survival. I was humbled.
Yet, even in being beaten I knew I was strong. Not as strong as I’d like. But the humility of the beating and everything it took in the year ahead to get that far had made me tough. I was marathon tough.
To run a marathon, 26.2 miles, you need to have run for at least a year and be able to run 20 miles a week before starting a specific training plan. From that base as a first timer or novice, you ramp up your mileage over four months from 20 to 40+ miles per week. One of those “big weeks” toward the end of your build up might look like this: rest Sunday; 5 miles easy Monday; 8 miles easy Tuesday; 5 miles tempo (quicker pace) Wednesday; rest Thursday; 5 miles at race pace Friday; 20 mile long run on Saturday.
That discipline of running with a purpose five days a week develops your marathon toughness. Every day you wake up to train you’ve got the questions, “Am I going to be a wimp today?” You’ve got to put in the work. You’ve got to meet the pace. Daily. For weeks.
Daily disciplines prepare you for bigger tests.
Every day you add to your total mileage. Every week you run more than before. Every weekend you extend your long run. And every time, it hurts to push a little father than before. You test yourself every run.
Life is like a marathon: Daily disciplines prepare you for bigger tests. Your good eating habits accumulate for health for a lifetime. Your regular exercise regimen builds your stamina for the longest days. Your daily Bible reading caches wisdom for the toughest days. Your daily prayer time develops a relationship for the times you need it most. Your regular journaling helps you know yourself best when life is at its worst. Your closest friendships support you on the most difficult days. Just like in life: It’s not in the race that you become marathon tough; it’s in the training.
A marathon doesn’t make you tough; a marathon reveals the toughness you have.
Be marathon tough. Daily disciplines make the difference.