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The Self Shelf: Five vaguely sane reasons why you should run a marathon

Published: October 1, 2010
Section: Opinions


It’s that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to change color. A fall chill is in the air. And once again, I am about to drag myself into another season of training for the Cox Marathon in May. At this point, I am already starting to draw up a training plan that will guarantee I lose hours of sleep and a large part of my free time. People have all sorts of reactions when I tell them about my plans (my personal favorite being “Hope you win!”) but a surprising amount of people have asked me why I would put myself through such misery … especially when it is snowing out. So, without further ado, here are my top five reasons to run a marathon.

The first and most fundamental reason to run a marathon is the sense of accomplishment it brings about. There is nothing quite like training for a feat like a marathon for hours and hours during several months and then having it all come to fruition. The sense of elation one feels after finishing the race more than makes up for the hardship of the training. And honestly, there are few better feelings of personal satisfaction than being able to say you have finished a marathon.

Secondly, training for a marathon gives you an excuse to exercise as well as a purpose in doing so. If you are already on a sports team, this is probably superfluous, but giving yourself a goal to work towards provides for a much more fulfilling exercise experience than sporadic workouts. This is where the goal of training for the marathon comes in. As a first-year last year, I was lost in terms of my running schedule and I felt that the occasional run was rather pointless. By training for the marathon, I gave myself something to work towards. Plus, if you are looking to persuade yourself to exercise, there is always the added incentive of not dying on race day.

A third reason to run a marathon is the sense of euphoria you get after a run. Running is like meditation insofar as all of your troubles fade away during and for a while after a run. In fact, when you run faster or longer than usual, you can experience a condition commonly referred to as “runners high,” which is a sense of absolute fulfillment and contentment that lasts for hours after a run.

The fourth reason in favor of a marathon is the fact that it will leave you in the best shape of your life. It is almost impossible to complete the training and the race itself without being in the best shape of your life. By race day, you will have more energy and be in better shape than ever before (except, possibly, those who are already deeply invested in sports). Additionally, the training allows you to eat large meals without any danger of gaining weight–in fact, you should eat more than you usually do for energy.

The final and best reason to run a marathon is, strangely enough, that it helps you stay sane. This may apply only to me but the routine and all the benefits listed above helped me balance my life last year.

Now you may be wondering how exactly running hundreds of miles can help you stay sane with all of the time commitments and work involved.

It is hard to explain but the process of training for a goal day after day provides a sense of comfort and fulfillment that can help you during even the most difficult parts of your life.

In terms of relieving stress during hard times, there is nothing better than a run. Indeed, I would often run and find that it restored me to equilibrium in terms of my emotional well-being.

All in all, you may not be convinced of the merits of running a marathon. After all, it is still running a marathon. It requires an unbelievable amount of time and effort. Yet I would recommend doing it at least once during your college career if you have the chance. College is the one place where you make your own schedule and where taking a run at three in the morning (this did actually happen to me) is feasible (and, for the record, awesome). I would recommend planning your schedule accordingly if you do decide to run a marathon as it will be much more enjoyable that way.

Also, anyone can run a marathon. Whether you are in good or bad shape, young or old, short or tall, you can begin training for a marathon. In fact, the most fulfilling experience in running can be getting in shape with a goal like a marathon in mind.

Regardless of how convincing this article is, I hope that you will now understand the reasons behind running.

Finally, I could not write this article without a shout out to my friend, Jordi Goodman, who has been training for a Halloween marathon on Cape Cod since last spring–best of luck!

As you can see, we are not entirely insane when we decide to run a marathon.

Whether you are looking for a life changing experience, something to strive for or just good old fashioned exercise, running a marathon is a great idea that will bear fruit before, during and after the actual race.