In 2007, I ran my first marathon and it was a huge deal for me.
At that time, I signed on with Team In Training and spent six months preparing. And when my training program took me past my previous mileage threshold of 13.1 miles, every long run thereafter became a voyage into unchartered waters. It was exhilarating and I would eagerly arise hours before day break, don my running gear, bound down the stairs and head out into the darkness. My recovery times were quick and my energy level was full speed ahead. I was living the runner’s high.
Fast forward two years.
My current (accelerated) marathon training program thrust me to the 16 mile mark in six short weeks. It has forced me to run up Mill Mountain repeatedly and to go to the track for 800 meter interval workouts.
The long runs jumped from 16 to 18 to 20 miles in the bat of an eye and the so called easy runs are now 7 to 8 miles in distance. I no longer eagerly get up full of anticipation. Instead, this time I find myself dragging my tired bones from the comfort of the warm sheets, struggling to lace up my shoes and descending the steps carefully, one at a time. Then I reluctantly force myself out of the door into the pitch black abyss of the start of another day for my morning run.
At this point in the training, I am now two weeks away from the start of the Richmond Suntrust Marathon and I have yet to recover one iota. On the contrary, fatigue has taken up full time residency within the confines of my being and instead of experiencing the runner’s high, I feel I am plagued with a runner’s hangover.
I’m freakin’ exhausted.
So why, you may ask, am I doing this?
It’s a fair question and one I’ve asked myself a lot lately (particularly last Sunday while struggling to complete a 22 mile run). What is it that makes an otherwise reasonably sane person decide to do this?
One might argue it’s a false belief in the fantasy that doing so will somehow slow down life’s continually ticking clock along with the never ending aging process. That by pushing oneself to the point of collapse, will in some way earn one a token which might be redeemed for a tiny slice of one’s youth.
But believe me, after 22 miles I’m way over that reason.
Instead when asked the question, why do you run so many miles, I think the best answer I can possibly give anyone is to share the following quote from a friend in Michigan. For her words truly embody the reason I and thousands of others endure this insanity.
Tim, as someone who has lived with multiple myeloma for 15 years, I owe my life to you & others who are giving in any way they can to help find treatments. 15 years ago, they said I had 3 years . . . today, I walked 7 miles.