I told myself I was done running marathons after running CIM in December. But now, I’m contemplating running another one in 2022.
I initially set a goal to run the Boston Marathon. After years of training, I have run Boston 3 times and qualified 5 times. My marathon PR is 2:58:03. I did all the things that I ever wanted to do, and after every marathon, I say, “I’m done.” However, I always end up running one again.
Why do people keep running marathons? I’ve been thinking about this question. Two things come to mind for me.
First, marathon training is structured, which is beneficial for my life. It is a goal-setting process that organizes the days, weeks, and months. When I look back on the last decade and a half of my life, there is a continuous thread of running connection all my days — the highs and lows.
Second, I think most importantly, there’s this moment when you run a marathon, where your brain and your body are telling you to quit and stop. At that moment, things are very real. There are no distractions anymore; you’re present on what is happening at that moment. To finish the race, to set a great time, you have to defeat your mind and negative thoughts. You have to keep going when everything is telling you to quit. I’ve lost that battle with myself many times, and I’ve won that battle a few times. But every time it’s a real feeling, you feel alive, you feel connected in the present moment.
It is hard to have moments of living in ordinary life. There are so many distractions, so many demands on your time. But that moment in the marathon is where I find it when things are terrible. Your mind is begging you to stop. You have to get wholly absorbed in what’s happening — your breathing, your hearing, your sensations, your surroundings. You have to battle and fight through the negative thoughts, pain, and discomfort. Sometimes it lasts 30 seconds. Sometimes it lasts for an hour. The whole time you are living in the present. To me, it’s an addictive feeling because it reminds me that I am still alive.