Training for a Marathon and the Power of Community


We are only three weeks into the New Year and I have seen people toss their new year’s resolutions aside. The signs are all over the place: the couple with the matching warm up suits is gone from the Y, the “salad eaters” have gone back to the Chinese Buffet and,most unfortunately, Bedside Baptist has claimed a large number of would-be worshipers. But not all of us who made resolutions have given up on them. I, for one, am sticking to my guns. I have been physically active for several years and last summer I began training for triathlons, but I had never considered running a full marathon until a friend talked me into joining a running group, Innerstrength, late last fall.

This has been a great experience in perseverance. In the past few weeks I have run under unimaginable conditions. I remember in the past driving to the gym on cold mornings with my car seat heater on high shaking my head in disbelief of the runners who braved sub-freezing weather to be out on a run. “What in the world are these people doing?” I often thought. Now I am one of them. In the past two months I have done a series of firsts: My first run in pouring rain–in the dark–nonetheless, my first run in single-digit temperature, my longest run to date of 13.5 miles (that’s half a marathon already!), and logging over 34 miles in one week. Tomorrow morning I’ll be up at 4:30 and by 5:15 I’ll be ready to run up Percy Warner’s 5.8 mile-loop staring down 3-mile hill as I huff my way up.

But as resolute as I am about completing this marathon, I would not have done most of
these firsts without

the encouraging, prodding, harassing, and down right shaming of my training partners. I remember sitting in my car at the entrance of the park and looking at the 10 degree displayed on the dashboard as one of my running partners, knocked on my window, opened the door and literally pulled me out of the car (I’m from Brazil, ok; we don’t do cold, so cut me some slack!!).

I realized, yet again, how the powerful community is in my life. I have become a runner through the eyes of new friends who didn’t know my limitations, my hang ups, my body-image issues (I always thought of myself as a slow, overweight kid). My running friends know me as a runner, and they have helped me grow faster and stronger in my running. Not long ago, I went from being a man who ran, to being a runner. I don’t know when it happened for sure, but it did.

  • Sallly

    Great insight on community. I too joined a running group last year and has made a big difference.

  • Chantel

    The finish line will change you forever!!!!! Way to go- you are an inspiration to many…

  • Made me think about accountability. There is incredible value in having accountability in all areas of our life – especially where we need encouragement, or insight from experience.

  • You're right, Gary. Every time I want to bail out on a run, I think of the people who will be waiting on me and all the grief I'll get for skipping it. As far as experience goes, I'm thankful for numerous tips on injury prevention through stretch, massages and even ice baths. Maybe not the ice bath.

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