By Steven Pressfield | Published: May 19, 2010A few years ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to run a marathon. The experience turned out to be a life-changer, not so much for the race itself (though that was pretty great too) as for the training that built up to it.
I live in Los Angeles. There was a hospital downtown, Orthopaedic Hospital, that was offering a free six-month training program leading up to the L.A. Marathon. Classes met once a week, Sunday morning.
Each session was on a different subject—hydration, footwear, “hitting the wall,” etc. Probably 400 runners became regulars. The program helped us set up our individual training schedules. I taped mine to the door of my fridge. It became a religion.
When you train for something as hard-core as a marathon, you quickly discover that your fellow runners are doing it for some pretty serious reasons. Many, particularly women, were coming out of divorces. Others had lost jobs or suffered traumatic personal reversals. Lots of people were running for others—a child with cancer, a brother wounded overseas.
We bonded like bandits. Everyone helped everyone else. Very few were real runners. A fast time? We just wanted to finish.
Few things in life are sprints. Almost everything that’s worthwhile is a marathon. So here’s to my fellow shin-busted, spine-tweaked, carb-loaded foot sloggers. Thanks for teaching me the virtues of the marathoner’s mind-set and showing me the magic of training over time. We went in wanting to believe and we came out believing. If we desperate housewives and sobriety-tested firemen can do it, we can do anything.