I wrote the page below nearly 10 years ago. At the time, I was looking for the justification and motivation to move my personal life towards a direction that is entirely different from the mainstream. The bias is a bit dated now.


 

"Keep in mind that, while they may sound similar to marathons,
Ironman triathalons and ultramarathons are insane events.
The marathon, however, at 'just' 26.2 miles,
is a completely normal, reasonable, sensible event to compete in."
Tere Stouffer Drenth, Marathon Training for Dummies.

The Marathon as Lifestyle and Report Card

Preparing for a marathon requires months of focus on living life as it should be lived: proper nutrition, proper rest, and proper amounts of exercise. Life is the cumulative effect of what you repeatedly do. Aristotle said, “You are what you repeatedly do.” Twelve months after my first Marine Corps Marathon, I ran my second twenty-one minutes faster.

Life is a marathon; training for a marathon is a lifestyle. Training for a marathon is consistent with healthful living. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommends:

  • “To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
  • To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.”

My marathon training for 2006 was three 6-milers, and one longer run on the weekends of between 15, and 23 miles. This was five to eight hours of running per week, less than the USDA recommendation for healthful living. Not only did I sustain the 35-pound weight loss that I achieved in my first year of training, I ran the second marathon 21 minutes faster. The takeaway point here is that you can run a marathon on less exercise that the USDA recommends for adults.

Point of fact is, when a 50-year old achieves the level of fitness where he can run 20-23 miles at will, he peels back decades of aging. My wife, who runs half-marathons, and I find that no one, age 20 through 50 can match us in endurance in either work or play because of our training. Aside from training, nothing I encounter in day to day life can tire me physically. That is a wonder feeling to have at the age of 51.

Achieving this is not hard, really. All it requires is to start slowly, increase gradually, and, ultimately, simply “do the miles”. The reward is a quantum step in quality of life.

I run the Marine Corps Marathon because I was a Marine. When I was 25, I couldn’t “start slowly, increase gradually” and I repeatedly failed in my attempts to achieve the level of fitness needed to run 26.2 miles. 25 years later, and a bit wiser, I have that fitness. Any healthy 50 year old can also achieve it.

My fall marathon is my report card for the year. It is the grade of how healthfully I have lived the year. I realize, and the USDA confirms, that marathon training is not something extreme; this level of exercise is what Americans should be getting.

 

(1) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11893583