I’m a pretty fast guy for a non-elite runner. I can still break a 4:30 mile, a 16-minute 5K and a 33-minute 10K at the age of 45. My PR in the marathon is 2:27:17 and have run in the 2:30s three different times as well throughout my life. I tell you this not to brag, but to say if I weren’t this fast I don’t know if I would be such a serious runner. I am blessed to be able to run at a pretty good gait and enjoy running at top speeds. Heck, if I were fast enough to be a sprinter, I would have probably been one, but that was not to be.
So while over the years, people have been “amazed” by how fast I can run this distance or that, I honestly think to myself that I’m just lucky to have good running-DNA and a pretty good work ethic. What I’m really amazed at are the people who work their asses off to break a 6-hour marathon or 15-hours in an Ironman – these are my endurance heroes!
It’s All Relative
For years I’ve told the countless people I’ve coached for marathon events, “It’s all relative”. When I say that, I’m speaking about the work effort that goes into running a sub-3 hour, sub-4 hour, sub-5 hour or sub-6 hour marathon. Just because I can run a sub-2:30 marathon doesn’t mean I work any harder than the individual who runs the sub-4 hour marathon, it just means I’m faster.
And if I had to be on the roads for 5+ hours (in a marathon) or 14+ hours (in an Ironman) I am pretty certain I would not be so inclined to enter one. The mental fortitude and physical demands you must undertake for multi-hour runs, rides and swims is truly amazing – inspiring, I would even argue. I honestly get a bit edgy on a run longer than 90-minutes. So, if you told me that I needed to go on a 20-mile run or 80-mile bike ride and it was going to take me 4-6 hours, I would probably say nope, that’s just waaaaay too long! But many of you out there are these people, and honestly, I don’t know how you have the will or the drive to be on your feet or in the seat for that sort of a duration – now that’s some real grit and determination!
Be Proud of Yourself
It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to cross that finish line. Those of you who take 5+ hours to run a marathon or 14+ hours to complete an Ironman, you train like the rest of us train. You have doubts if you’ll finish, just like the rest of us. You are not sure if you can handle this enormous challenge you’ve placed before yourself, just like the rest of us. But on top of all this, you know that there will be no fanfare for you. There will be no write-up in the local paper about your courage. There will be no top-3 age-group finish, most likely. You are on your feet and the roads for more hours than the rest of us and yet you still want to continue. You know you’ll be towards the end of the pack, and yet you wish to go on. You are, my endurance brothers and sisters, no less of an athlete than the 2:07 marathoner or the 8:10 Ironman finisher. You are inspiring. You are the spark that let’s others know, that it can be done if you believe in yourself and have the will to pursue your dreams and goal. I thank you for this. You are all truly my endurance heroes.