Why do I run marathons?

That’s me over there in the white shirt.  Six days ago.  It was a day 804900_1190_0043that I had worked toward since ~ March.  I’ve done this every year since 2010.  For about 15 minutes after the marathon, I was sure that it was my last.  I ran a 1/2 marathon about 3 weeks ago, and it was amazing.  I loved it.  I was downright gleeful afterward.  Not so after 26.2 – especially NYC, which has a very difficult last 5 miles.  Just walking the ~ 3/4 mile after the finish was painful.   Why do I do this every year?

  1. Resilience
  2. Discipline

That’s it.  If you know someone who has run a marathon, you know a person who has chosen to find both of these within themselves.

Notice that I don’t say that these people HAVE resilience or HAVE Discipline.  As Carol Dweck describes in Mindset, resilience is a core component of human success.  We can learn resilience, and we can un-learn resilience.  Every day – we are offered opportunities to give up, ease back, let it slide, be sad, be angry, or stop trying to do our best.  Do you struggle with these challenges?  Yeh – I thought so.  Me too.

Discipline, not unlike resilience, is hard to find, hard to maintain, and easy to lose.  In a world burdened by attention deficit trait (warning: pdf), it’s easy to get sidetracked away from the good habits we try to build.

It’s impossible to run a marathon without both of these.  The marathon is – for me – a way to keep myself focused enough, resilient enough, and disciplined enough to get it done – whatever “it” is today.

You can too.  What’s your marathon?