In 2017, Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the TCS New York City Marathon in 40 years. Her raw determination and the focus she maintained that Sunday, November 5th, was a trait all runners strive to embrace while they’re pushing through a long and arduous run. Shalane, the humble and dedicated long-distance runner came in third place at 2018’s New York City marathon – but she is still my idol and heroine as an athlete who keeps coming back for more and doesn’t need to “outdo” herself to be a proud competitor.
Watching Shalane and the thousands of other marathon runners was a remarkably motivating and driving event in November, during which runners from every walk of life participated in. They also received support from people all over the world, as many elite marathon runners traveled from miles away to take on 26.2 miles of city streets. Every spectator – even those watching the marathon on television or on their gadgets when highlights were posted – felt the spirit of the massive crowd making their way through all five boroughs of the city.
Some say it’s the energy, enthusiasm, and adrenaline surging through everyone taking part in the event where runners have trained their hearts out to cover all those miles in record time. Others say there’s an inspirational aspect of the sport that brings together professional runners, amateur runners and all athletes in between!
If you’re watching a marathon because someone you know is participating in it, the sheer anxiety of knowing how your friend or loved one performed may get you all choked up, nervous – and even proud! There’s also a sense among many spectators that people who run marathons are a unique breed of athletes who love a challenge and are ferocious individuals for being able to run for several hours at a time.
With posters all over that advertised the New York City marathon saying: “It Will Immortalize You” and “It Will Move You,” the feeling of being part of such an epic race isn’t just for the runners taking it to the streets!
So what exactly makes watching a marathon invigorating, motivating and transforming?
Hard Work Showcased At Its Best!
Running, like any other sport, is an activity that gets easier with practice, dedication, and self-discipline. When you’re watching a marathon, you can truly see how much hard work a runner has put into their training – whether they’re pacing themselves, trying to keep up with the crowd, or alternating their techniques.
Experts say it can take 18-22 weeks, if not more, to train for a marathon. Being able to trek such a distance for such a long duration of time demonstrates how hard marathoners have worked to reach their goals.
In other aspects of life, such as professionally and educationally, it also takes a lot of hard work to perform your best and reaching many of your goals requires weeks of dedication to get to where to you want to be. Watching runners conquer their own challenges – and finally put their training to the test – is proof that everything they’ve done leading up to “the big day” was worth all the sacrificing, dieting, training, lack of sleep and anything else they’ve had to adjust to becoming the best runners they could be.
Also, if you haven’t ran a marathon yet but you’re interested in going for it someday, you can realistically complete one if you put the work into it as well! Running is not one of those sports where you truly need other people to be “on your team” and you don’t necessarily need a coach or trainer to show you how to be a good runner. Unlike other sports, in running there are plenty of “average people” partaking in marathons and even if it takes 6 hours to cross that finish line, you don’t have to be a star athlete or have any amazing prospects ahead of you to dedicate your time to running.
Learning What The Human Body Is Capable Of
It’s not until you watch a marathon – seeing hundreds and thousands of runners sweating in pain, stumbling through that last mile as their legs are just making it – that you truly realize how amazing the human body is and what it can withstand!
If you think watching other sporting events is fun as a means of passing time, those sports probably don’t compare to what a runner has to endure during a marathon when it comes to their cardio, focusing mentally and physically, keeping a pace that allows them to pound through every mile and using every body part until the very end.
Watching a marathon means you get to see the brawn and bravery of bodies that could be anywhere between 20 and 100 years old! When you’re watching a marathoner sweat and push through their 25th mile, it may make you realize that the body is capable of continuous endurance with the right training and direction.
Never Give Up!
Have you ever seen those shots of exhausted runners crawling across the finish line – destined and hungry to earn that medal? Their mantra during training was most likely “never give up!” no matter how many times they felt like throwing in the towel.
Once again, the mentality runners maintain during a race can be compared to the mind frame of subsequently facing other challenging feats in life – the road ahead is rough and long, but never give up! Runners who committed themselves to complete a marathon already psyched themselves up and boosted their mentality and have a long line of supporters who believe in them. Most importantly, a runner has to believe in themselves and not accept the idea that they can’t accomplish their goals.
Seeing a marathon runner push through a rough patch, an uphill or a challenging turn demonstrates that life also has many uphills and turns that can be conquered. A lot of runners who complete marathons may also have setbacks, injuries and physical ailments that could pose a threat to their training and competing. You may see runners wear braces on their legs – or accessories to battle the annoyances that physically accompany running long distances, but they find a way of working through their physical challenges and don’t give up – no matter how long it takes them to finish.
At Boston’s 2018 marathon, Desiree Linden was the first American woman to win Boston in 33 years! And even though she came in sixth place at the New York City Marathon, she remains one of the top American runners and Olympians to continue coming back for more no matter what it takes.
It Might Turn You Into A Long Distance Runner (Or Simply A Better Runner)!
If you’re keeping your runs short and quick and you’re not inspired to push beyond the few miles you trek every couple of days, watching a marathon may help you believe that you CAN run longer and you CAN dedicate more of your time to your passion. Seeing runners maintain their energy and last for hours hitting the pavement can provoke a renewed passion for running longer and being part of the running community. Hey – if they can do it, so can you!
During many of the marathon breaks, announcers usually review the top athletes, their training regimens, diets and their track records of improvement from one race to another.
Non-runners who watch marathons – along the grounds or even via live feeds – may get the “running-bug” from watching this huge race of epic proportions! The activity of running is something anyone can do – and begin at pretty much any point in their lives.
Since there’s no special equipment/requirements other than a good pair of sneakers for running, the simplicity of the sport may be more attractive as spectators witness how simple it is to get their legs going.
Running is also a sport that’s generally practiced at one’s own pace and timing – one of the awesome advantages to pick up running as a hobby or pastime. When you see the smiles of pain and joy in the runners’ faces, it’s an infectious feeling that anyone can experience if they become a hardcore runner.
Obviously, the good part about being swayed into becoming a runner is a healthier life, feeling more energized and confident about yourself with each run.
An Idea For Your Bucket List!
What crazy things do you have on your bucket list? Skydiving? Bungee jumping?
Running a marathon is certainly not as risky or dangerous as a death-defying leap thousands of feet from the ground – but it provides a jolt and adrenaline rush for hours at a time (while you’re safely on the ground). Those who have never ran a marathon might find the personal challenge just right for their level of self-assessment and testing their mental and physical tolerance/stamina. Runners know that there’s nothing quite like the feeling of “being alive” that comes with exhausting your body and battling the terrain ahead. Running for hours on end isn’t really as “crazy” as other dangerous daredevil activities, but it will leave you feeling like you’re capable of anything!
No matter how many marathons you watch/witness and keep track of, the spirit of running – and even watching other fellow runners plow through what could be the biggest challenge of their lives – is electrifying and possibly an infectious activity for an unlimited audience.