Willing myself marathon strong

2009-08-30-signs (Photo credit: Dawn – Pink Chick)

“Don’t you give up on me 583! You are not a quitter 583!”

While I am not, nor probably will ever be, a qualified racer for the Boston Marathon, I deeply admire those who participate, and I also admire the fans. It is the fans, the friends, family, and volunteers who transform marathons or other races from terribly long runs into events.

Marathons take a while to complete. Marathons hosted in cities other than Boston can take even longer as the racers aren’t nearly as fast.

As a spectator, there is very, very little you can do while you wait for your runner of choice to cross the finish line. Unless your runner is equipped with a personal fitness tracking device (thank you Endomodo friend maps) you can only guess your runner’s time based on past performance.

Boston marathon mile 25 citgo sign 050418
Boston marathon mile 25 citgo sign 050418 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than wandering off to a coffee shop or taking an early morning nap propped up against the barricade rails, the majority of spectators spend this time shouting encouragements to random runners. While the spectators don’t know whether a runner’s name is Sue or Bob, their shouts are specific. “Bring it home 423! That’s it 741, show that pavement who’s boss!”

The spectators read the bib numbers off the racers and make sure that racer knows the spectator is calling directly to them. Often this little bit of extra attention is all that is needed for a racer to keep up their grueling pace, because they know someone is watching. The practice makes everyone faster.

If you think about it, these spectators are actually encouraging other racers to beat the person they were originally pulling for. In any other sporting event the fans would be booing the competition, not cheering for them. With marathons, the thing that matters most is that their runner beat his or her personal best, not how they compared to others.

Many of us want to be successful at what we’ve chosen to do. We’ve struggled. We’ve burnt the midnight oil. We dedicated ourselves to learning our craft, business, or other chosen skill. Then we get discouraged or feel threatened when we look at how we supposedly rank against the competition.

Scoreboard FB
Scoreboard FB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a writer, my only competition is someone who has created an identical story to my own in length, characterization, plot, and design. In short, someone who is violating all US copyright laws.

My competition is not other struggling writers. I enjoy reading other’s works and occasionally comment on other blogs with my real thoughts and feelings based on what they have written, not just as a means to plug my own work. The little gesture of recognition might just give them that needed boost towards their own finish line.

Unless your business deals with professional athletics, we need to change our definition of winning. It shouldn’t be about how badly you can beat the competition. It should be about how well you exceeded your personal and professional goals. We need to force ourselves to become marathon strong and shout encouragement along the way.

Marathon_Medals (Photo credit: zhurnaly)



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8 thoughts on “Willing myself marathon strong

  1. I keep finding wonderfully supportive groups of writers out there and it makes this journey that much easier. You know there’s someone in your corner and that you’ve got their back as well. Sure, there might be the flash of envy for a peer’s Amazon ranking or best selling sales but it’s easy to suppress and wish them well because they would do the same for you if/when the situation is reversed.
    While I have never run the Boston Marathon, the Toronto half-marathon has become an annual event for me and I have to say how much it means to have the cheers and encouragement of the crowds as I run by. One race I had my name on my bib and hearing ‘Go, Holly!’ from complete strangers was the most amazing feeling!


    1. Congratulations on your half marathon! That really is an accomplishment, especially if you are doing it year after year. I love the people at these events. You can feel the camaraderie even if you aren’t a competitor.

      I too have been lucky enough to find a number of supportive groups out there, which has made this experience a lot less scary. You nailed it.


    1. I am a long ways from physcially running a marathon. I am still most comfortable in the 5K range, but I am surrounded by runners and have seen more than a few similarities in their training to writing.


  2. I love this! As a runner and a writer I can totally relate. Though I must say that I find finishing a marathon much easier than finishing a novel. I’ve written (or almost written) a couple novels that were so bad I couldn’t bring myself to actually carry them through the revision process. It’s been so hard for me to finish a writing project of a significant length that about a year ago I made the deliberate decision that, as much as I want to be a novelist, I will only write short stories until I’ve mastered the process–the pre-writing, writing, and revision through to a point that I can all a piece “finished”. I’ve learned a lot in the last year that I’ve focused on short stories. I have a few more ideas in the works and then in February of 2017 I’ll start a novel that I’ll hopefully be willing to carry through to the end of the writing process. We’ll see.

    In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my short fiction and keep up with my training for running a marathon in May.


    1. I have a few unfinished novels languishing away as well. Maybe one day I might be able to salvage them, but I fear it will take more than a few re-writes to get them to the point of even moderate acceptability. I completely admire you for the short stories. I’ve been dabbling with those as well, but they all seem to wind up just being chapters for novels I haven’t had time to write yet.

      Good luck with your running! And good luck in Feb. If I can do it, you can do it too.

      Liked by 1 person

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