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The Benefits of Running a Marathon

April 17th 2006

When I set the goal to run a marathon one day, I didn’t expect all the benefits that have come along with the training.
 

Along with improving my health, I’ve gained a new level of respect for long distance runners.  I was a sprinter through college, so the miles of long distance work is all new to me…and a bit of a shock to my body.
 

I remember years ago when in college, I received a call from my brother telling me that he was not going out for the high school football team the next year so he could run cross country.  My first thought was “Are you crazy? You’re going to give up football so you can run long distances – no ball, just flat-out run for mile after mile? Why?”
 

My brother was convinced he could be a “pretty good” long distance runner and shared with me that he really didn’t “enjoy hitting people.”  Now, this is where I really started thinking my brother may have taken one too many hits rather than dishing out a few hits to his fellow teammates.
 

He was playing defensive back, and hitting was the FUN part of the position.  A wide receiver runs across the middle and just as he stretches out his arms and places his fingertips on the leather of the football – WHAP! – you split the numbers on his jersey.
 

Well, I thought I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell my brother that I felt he was making a big mistake by giving up football to run cross country, and how he’d regret his decision years down the road.
 

Wow, was I ever wrong.
 

Within a year, my brother was calling me back telling me how he was really enjoying being a part of the cross country team, and how well he was performing during the regular season meets.  I was stunned.  I said “really?” as if I needed to be more convinced he was really enjoying running. He shared with me that he was hoping to do well at conference, the regional, and get this – his goal was to run in the state meet. All I could say was “really?” with a bit more emphasis.
 

To my surprise, my brother did go on to run in the state cross country meet and was not only one of the standout runners on his team his junior and senior years, but he was one of the best in the state.  I couldn’t have been more proud of my brother, the decision he made, and the valuable lesson he taught me.
 

I’ve carried that lesson with me every day and it’s become especially helpful with our kids when they decide which activities they want to pursue. My wife and I decided early on to support whatever activities the kids choose to pursue.
 

As for my own pursuit to run a marathon and what I’ve gained, I have benefited from a health standpoint.  I was hopeful to lose weight, but to my surprise, I haven’t lost much weight.  I feel great; have deflated the tire around my waist a bit, but I haven’t “slimmed down” as I thought I would from running the long miles.
 

The mental benefits have been more than I expected. I thought it was pretty cool to multitask by running and listening to business CDs, especially during long runs, but have transitioned this past week to running with no headsets and instead focusing 100 percent on running, listening to my body, and remaining in a consistent pace throughout my runs.  It’s amazing how this change has helped me be less winded and much more “dialed in” on my runs.
 

If you’ve never run a marathon and thinking it might be something you’d like to try, I encourage you to read a few stories about the many benefits to running and give it a shot.  So far, it’s been an amazing experience for me.
 

Here are three articles I hope are helpful on the benefits of running a marathon:
 

So You Wanna Run a Marathon?
 

Benefits of Running/Jogging Community
 

Running: Is it the Right Exercise for You?
 

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Ron Goch, The Telios Group
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