10 reasons to run a marathon

Richard is a multiple marathon runner and blogger from Pontefract, West Yorkshire. Richard runs for Pontefract Athletics Club and Sweatshop Running Community in Castleford and is often seen at Pontefract parkrun and other local events. This will be Richard’s fifth marathon and here he gives his 10 reasons why you should run a marathon.

Someone once asked me whether I felt that they should run a marathon. The answer a lot of runners would say is to ask them why not. Most people may need a little more supporting evidence than asking why not!  

I have come up with ten reasons why someone might want to choose to run a marathon.

1. It is a challenge that you’ll never forget

I still remember my first parkrun. It was amazing to have that feeling of completing my first 5k – even if it did take me best part of ¾ of an hour to complete! After that, I raised the bar and wanted to run to run further. Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now was definitely a musical influence at the time! I remember thinking that 10k was a long way and not an everyday thing to do. I was right, it was. The bug had got me by then.

Running was a health thing, a fitness thing, a social thing, and it was a challenge-laden hobby that kept nudging me for the next level up. In the same evening after I had ran my first 10k, I booked to run a half marathon some months later. The challenge was there, and I was going to enjoy getting there. After a number of half marathons, I saw the look of joy that fellow runners had after running their first marathon. I wanted to be part of that club. I had this next challenge waiting for me. I had a challenge ahead of me that I wouldn’t ever forget achieving.

2. It’s pretty cool to be able to drop into conversation ‘I’ve ran a marathon’.

When you tell someone that you’ve ran a marathon, the most common response is “Wow!” When you look at the general cross-section of society, I would estimate that maybe less than 3% will have ran a marathon at any time in their lives. That’s a pretty elite group to be part of. It’s something to be really proud of. Almost no one who had 26 miles to travel would contemplate running as their chosen transport method. Trains, cars, buses, bikes even, but not running! It takes a certain kind of person to do this by choice. It earns you a certain level of respect from fellow runners and non-runners alike. Trust me, it’s a pretty cool thing to have crop up in a conversation.

3. Being part of a mass-participation event is an amazing feeling

I love race day. I often talk to others about the togetherness that is there in the waiting pens before a race starts. The nervous energy, the excitement, the fear, the realisation that this is the moment. Very few people feel alone in the world right then. Wherever they look around them, they have people in the same boat as them. The looks between the runners and the conversations going on are supportive. The people on the other side of the barriers look at the runners with supportive faces and cheering on all these random strangers alongside their family members and friends running. Runners are made to feel special and appreciated by all around them. Race day is one of the best feelings a runner can have.

4. You will be inspired by others on your journey

One thing that runners like to do is talk about how they are getting on. They talk about everything from their training, their reason for running, their admiration for other runners, their inspirations, and their experiences. When I hear some of the stories of how people have got on, or see how their training has been going, or witnessed sensational performances from friends – it spurs me on. We are all a little bit competitive, whether it is someone else’s time we are trying to beat or whether we are just pushing ourselves against the clock personally. I get inspired seeing others do well, and it helps spur me on in my own running. I love being inspired by others and I see it often in other people’s running which helps me run stronger myself too.

5. Others will look up to you and be inspired by your achievements.

One of the great things about marathon training is that quite often other runners will come up to you and tell you how well they think you’re doing. They are inspired by your achievements. Sometimes complete strangers will come and tell you how they saw you out running in the soaring heat or the pouring rain and just wanted to tell you they admired your dedication and devotion. When you know you’ve helped someone else, it increases the flame inside you. Helping others helps ourselves. If you see a runner doing well or reaching new heights, let them know you’re impressed. It will make such a difference to them and give them a boost.

6. It gives you an increased level of confidence.

After you’ve completed a marathon, you have a bar that you can always refer back to. I see it as if in times to come you may be struggling, you can always remind yourself that you have completed a marathon. Yes, an actual full marathon! It gives you a level of confidence that shows that you have achieved something big. You can now tackle anything from a position of strength, and experience. Knowing you are one of an elite club certainly helps your confidence levels!

7. Seeing the smiles of the crowd on your way round gives you a boost

Race day crowds are awesome! Seeing all those cheering people – mums and dads, children, grandparents, even vicars and archbishops – all wanting to cheer you on and support you in your endeavours gives such a lift to runners. I have a phrase I use ‘Smiles Through The Miles’, and race day is the perfect example of enjoying their running. This is especially the case for people like me who are more social runners. I won’t be breaking any records, but I will be having fun on the run! In all weathers, supporters come and stand at the sides of the road to help us round. They cheer, they clap, they offer us jelly babies and jaffa cakes. Yes please – more jaffa cakes, please! Race day shows that society still exists and there are many good people looking out for others and wanting other to succeed. That’s enough reason in itself for smiles through the miles.

8. It’s a great opportunity to raise money for charity.

A marathon is a long way. It takes a lot of energy to run that distance. The months of training shows dedication and devotion. Many people like to not just run for themselves and to try and get a time, but to help make a difference for others too. On race day there will be many different charities being supported and many different people being helped by the actions of the runners and their supporters. Non-runners will often support their running friends through this way so the helpfulness and support spreads further to a wider circle of friends and family. That’s such a heart-warming thing to have going on and can help spur you on when running knowing you’re helping many needy people.

9. That moment you cross the line will live with you forever.

Marathon training can seem like it goes on such a long time. You can’t wait to have your weekend lie-ins back again. You know that you’ll be tired by the time you cross the finish line. It may be quite a few hours after the winner has crossed the line too, but when you cross the line, you feel like you’ve won yourself. I’ve seen so much energy being spent on that last 50 metres or so of a marathon, you wonder where they got that energy from after running for the past four, five or six hours or so. The feeling for me is a mixed one of happiness and relief it is done! Arms are often thrown in the air or flung out wide. Tears are likely to be in the eyes of some runners. Disbelief often creeps in that you’ve completed a marathon. A feeling of awesomeness is often reported by new marathon runners. A quick warning that some will say never again, but next day will be booking on to do it again the following year!

10. Let’s face it, we all love a good piece of bling!

You’ve ran a marathon. You’ve got your t-shirt. You’ve got your goody bag. You’re wearing your marathon medal. You’re a marathon runner and always will be. You’ve done it. That medal will one of your prized possessions for the rest of your lives. A chunk of medal and a ribbon that says you are now a marathon runner. You’ve achieved something. You’ve been part of a special occasion. This was your special moment. That bling will remind you of this every time you look at it for the rest of your life. If that isn’t a good enough reason to run a marathon in itself, I don’t know what is.

Marathons are hard work. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. They are definitely worth the hard work though. These ten reasons are big enough reasons in my mind why you should consider running a marathon for yourself. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t regret it and there will be #smilesthroughthemiles along the way.

This year I am raising money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal and as part of this fundraising I am running the 2019 Yorkshire Marathon. To sponsor me, please visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richandrosie

You can find Rich's blog at www.richlord.co.uk and on social media at @thisisrichlord 

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