This past April, I came out of winter hibernation mode and made the decision to start distance running. After weeks of working to get healthy and struggling through 2-mile runs, I started to get on track: I made a commitment to a 22-week marathon-training program.
The most common question any runner will be asked, (and will sometimes ask themselves), is “why?”. What possesses someone to want to run more than 26 miles? The answer for me is easy running makes me better. Thus began my journey to 26.2.
My journey has been one of the biggest physical and mental challenges I have ever faced. Distance running is physically demanding. In preparation for running, it is necessary to keep yourself healthy. Proper diet and nutrition are essential to all athletes. It comes in the struggle of cutting out candy and replacing it with complex carbs for energy and proteins for muscle repair.
I also learned the hard way the importance of sleep. Being a college student and getting a lot of sleep do not exactly coincide. Luckily, most training programs reserve long runs for Sundays. Many Saturday nights passed where I was asleep long before the majority of Oxford, and Sunday mornings where I ran 10 or 15 miles before my roommates were even out of bed.
The self-discipline I exercised to keep up my physical condition was also beneficial to my mental health. Getting outside in the fresh air, just me and the trail, is the absolute best way to release stress and clear my head. When hitting high mileage, I knew my body could handle it, but I had to push myself mentally. The real test came with motivating myself. I must have told myself “you can!” over a million times since beginning to train. But you know what? It works! When I run I feel as if I can conquer the world and it makes my head and my heart happy.
Distance running is both empowering and humbling. It is humbling because it is truly incredible what the body can do as a machine, but for me, it went even further than that. My marathon selection was not about convenience or being in a cool new city on race day. It was about running with a purpose.
I registered for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Marathon because I wanted to show my support for the kids. 24 miles are dedicated to Patient Champions, 24 children at the hospital, each with their own inspiring story.
By all means, this race is not for the runners. It is for the kids. Each of these patients inspires me to be better and running makes me better. I am ready to put my training to the test and complete my first marathon!
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