I've begun spending a lot of time learning about runners and the world they live in. I've read books, picked up a couple magazines, and even watched a documentary about folks training for the Chicago Marathon (its called "Spirit of the Marathon" in case you're interested) in an attempt to understand what drives people of all ages and fitness levels to push themselves to run long distances.
Because, frankly, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If someone asked me a few months ago what would cause me to run I imagine the only two possible scenarios would involve someone chasing me, or an ice cream truck at the end of the street.
And yet there are those out there running 26.2 for fun. There are the elite runners who actually run to win such races. And imagine my surprise to learn that 26.2 miles is not long enough for some. There are 27 mile races and 50 mile races. There are people who run marathons in all 50 states and on every continent. Its amazing to me. But this is a much different world than the one in which I live.
And it makes my goal of a half marathon seem almost puny. I mean, some of these runners run 13.1 miles just for the heck of it. I can just hear them at the water cooler,
Susie Runner: "Hey Joe, there's a half marathon this weekend. That would be a fun way to spend a Saturday. Wanna go?"
Joe Cool Runner Dude: "I'm taking my kids to the zoo later that afternoon, but I'd love to pound out 13.1 miles before that. How about you meet me at my house and we jog there."
Since this is so far removed from my world I can only guess what drives such craziness. Competition, the challenge, endorphins, raising money for good causes, learning the secret handshake....I don't know. Its a fascinating subject. But I suppose, for now, I can only answer the question for myself.
I cannot yet qualify myself as a runner - so I can only speculate. But I imagine the sense of accomplishment is what will make these months of training worth the effort. For me it is an exercise in goal-setting. Setting a goal, making constant progress toward that goal, and then seeing a tangible reward in the form of a blingy finisher's medal. A little extra structure and discipline is sure to serve me well - and I am embracing that. I just can't see me doing this for "fun" once that goal is met. We'll see.
Perhaps my thoughts and motivation will change throughout this journey and I will better be able to answer the question, "Why do people run?"