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This post is going to make some readers uncomfortable. In this post I am going to discuss the purpose and concept of the Marathon (and similar racing events) and what it is to be a high level athlete. I invite you to seek out anything from this article that might assist you in improving your running, your mindset, and your approach to living life at a higher level.
If you are just out to have an emotional response this post may not be for you, that is ok. There is a real difference between the average person who enjoys fitness and that of someone who is a high level athlete.[The Article]
There are many articles going around recently declaring that races should remove cut off times and allow those at the tail end of the race to simply finish. I disagree.
And I mean I TOTALLY DISAGREE!
Here is why: Real athletes:
1) Have respect for their bodies. This means they value their health and fitness, they continually test their mental and physical limits in training and performance events, they understand basic concepts of success.
2) They respect each other. They recognize and respect hard work, focus, dedication, discipline, drive, the valuing of health and fitness, hard decision making, the process of achieving/growing, the process for attaining success, the sheer effort put into being a real athlete.
3) They understand the purpose of racing events (including why there are cut off times).
4) They understand that success is a series of progressive steps to be learned, grown into, and conquered.
5) A Marathon is not something you just sign up for and hope to finish. It is something to mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically train and prepare for – in which you give everything you are into doing your best the entire 26.2 miles of the race. It tests you, questions you, and in the end defines you (that is makes it clear to you and everyone just who you are).
The REAL PURPOSE of racing events:
(This is actually the fundamentals of success applicable to every aspect of life – a series of progressive steps of increasing difficulty to be learned, grown into and achieved).
A 1 mile event is meant for those who will be walking.
A 5k event is meant for those who are beginning their fitness journey and are building the elements of running. In other words seeing just what level of fitness shape they are in, learning about and building basic levels of focus, better decision making, discipline, drive and establishing the concept of setting small goals, putting in the work and reaching those goals.
A 10k event is geared for those who have gained the fitness level (along with being able to put in the elements for success listed above) of being able to run 3 -6 miles, and they are working hard to improve upon all those basic elements of running and success. Notice I said able to run and working hard to improve upon.
A Half Marathon is for those who have been running for some time now, those who have put in the miles, the hours, the sweat, the effort, the discipline and dedication to training their minds and bodies into running long distances. These are intended for runners who can easily run that 6 miles, and are consistently improving their ability in running 10+ for their long runs.
This is a springboard for the training and success concepts that will be required to have achieved and be able to apply consistently while in preparation for running the full marathon.
The Marathon is intended for high level athletes. Persons who have achieved a high level of fitness, mental toughness, physical endurance and capabilities. This level of endurance and regular training is at such levels that running a 13-15 mile long run is no longer a challenge, but something that has become a common aspect of the athletes regular training schedule.
The Ultra Marathon event is geared for the athlete who needs a serious challenge in which to continue to train for and test the limits of the mind and body, in which simply doing a 26 mile run no longer does.
Are you getting the idea here?
These racing events are geared towards actual athletes (people who value continually increasing their mental and physical abilities and testing them).
They are intended to be progressive steps of achievement and ability over a long term timeframe, in which the training and preparation (and personal growth) required to do them and do them well is continuously increasing in difficulty and effort required. They are meant to be RUN.
Not walked. (And there is a big difference between walking for 20 seconds to sip water, tie a shoe, or walking one minute out of 10 once the runner is past the halfway point of the race vs walking the majority of the entire race).
The real athlete is fully aware that they should not be signing up for a race if there is any likelihood of them not making the cut off time with ease. The real athlete acknowledges that level of personal accountability (and realization) and respect for fellow runners.
Racing directors have every right to establish cut off times. They have every right to scoop people off the road who shouldn’t have signed up for it in the first place.
These cut off times give PLENTY of time to complete the event at a pace that is realistic for even the average runner (who has put in the proper training for the race).
Those who participate in these long distance events and are out of shape and unable to run most of the race are actually disrespecting the real athletes (everyone else doing the event). Because the real athlete has done the preparation required to actually run the running race.
What happens nowadays is people who haven’t earned the right to be in these events (those who’ve yet to learn and understand the basics of success and being an athlete) are demanding instant respect, instant heroism simply because they finished participating in a 13 or 26 mile race.
They’ve missed the point completely. IT IS A RACE involving RUNNING!
There is absolutely nothing heroic about being one of the last 25 people to finish a race. There is nothing to applaud if you’ve walked 10 of the 13 miles, barely made it to the finish and are still so out of shape and overweight that you are completely clueless as to what is required of and involved in being a person who decides to truly respect their bodies and live a lifestyle of health and fitness.
Don’t give me a bunch of excuses about injuries, illness or yada yada! People with one leg or one arm or who’ve had heart transplants or just popped out babies or who are 80 years old who value health and fitness, decide to put in the training required (regardless of their unique situation) and sign up and truly run and perform just as well as the other runners who’ve prepared and trained properly.
If you are one of barely making the cutoff time people, don’t get upset with me for pointing out the facts about the decisions you are making (or not making) in your life.
The point of a half or full marathon is that it is for people who are actually RUNNERS who already are living a fit and healthy lifestyle. A real athlete who has already achieved the basic foundations for being an athlete and a long distance runner.
These races are not meant for wannabes. They are not meant for walkers. They are not meant for beginning runners.
They are meant for REAL athletes who are in need of challenging events to continue pushing the threshold for what their minds and bodies can do.
In fact, the cutoff times should be moved up! Yes, they should.
The thing is I will not sugar coat anything. The truth about real athletes who actually RUN the half and full marathons are not looking to just finish. They are actually competing, with themselves and against each other (that’s actually motivating each other) to see just what they can really do, while in their top tier fitness level, while at the peak of their training program.
It isn’t about the overweight, out of shaper that is so very much a beginner in every aspect. There ought to be pre-requisites just to sign up for these longer, meant to be challenging events. The event isn’t challenging because of the distance to be run but due to the level of intensity and performance that the athlete applies and requires of themselves throughout the entire course and in the training beforehand.
This level of effort and intensity given by actual athletes is a completely different thing than the effort and intensity given by non athletes. It really is.
*So if you really want to change your life and your health, if you truly want to do a long distance event – have a little respect. Respect the event. Respect the real athletes who have put in the time and training. In doing so you learn to respect yourself. Part of this is learning to trust the process. Trust in the time and effort it really takes to learn and build upon the success aspects of really running a marathon.
Truly running one does change you, because the training and preparation required to really run it changes you!
This article is part I of a 3 article series.
Continue on to More on The Purpose of the Marathon followed by
This series set in motion the concept of the Book
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