I don’t think most marathoners are. I believe that you have to be at least partially crazy to train for a marathon.
I ran for five hours last week. FIVE HOURS. That can’t be normal.
I’ve found that training at this kind of intensity really changes your perspective on a lot of things. Distance. Time. Emotions.
When I set out for my five-hour run it was dark. Then it was sunny. Then it rained. Then it was cloudy. Then it was sunny again. I ran through rich neighbourhoods. Poor neighbourhoods. Industrial areas. Residential areas. By the time I got home, I felt as though I had just lived an entire week of experiences.
Distances are different too. Suddenly you realize that cities are fairly small and it’s very easy to run out of road. Plotting routes becomes increasingly difficult, and you start thinking in terms of kilometers.
Once a car stopped me on one of my long runs. The driver demanded to know if I had run all the way from a certain street. I explained that I was training for a marathon. He said it was his second time seeing me, and he couldn’t understand how I had come so far, so fast. Distances are shorter than we imagine.
Time carries with it a strange sensation. Five hours doesn’t feel like five hours. You get home and wonder why the day is suddenly over.
Emotions fluctuate. Everything happens in extremes. You go from feeling extremely energetic and positive that you can run forever, to extremely exhausted and certain that you cannot advance one more step. And yet you continue.
Near the beginning your legs are begging for rest, but after a certain distances they just move mechanically. One in front of the other, and you find that it is far less painful to run than to walk. Then sometimes it feels like they are collapsing.
All of these experiences are new to me. But they’re addictive. When I’m out there, I feel like a marathoner. Sometimes I see other runners sprinting along, and I know they haven’t been out nearly as long as I have. Their pace is faster than mine, but if I follow them I can always catch up when they stop to walk.
I’m in it for the long term. A slower pace, but steady and constant. When I’m out there, I want people to know, based on my pace, that I have been running for a very long time. And that I still have many miles to go. I want them to know that I won’t be stopping for a minor cramp or discomfort. That I am the stronger runner.
More than a runner – a marathoner.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like to run for five hours. It’s both the best and the worst feeling in the world.