I am pretty sure I was training for my first marathon the first time someone said that to me. And as the distances I run increase, so do the number of times I hear it. It starts by mentioning it casually then all of a sudden the person you are talking to looks at you like you quite possibly belong in a mental institution.
I remember when I was new to running, a 5k seemed like an impossible distance. Before I started running I swore that people who ran marathons had to be a special kind of stupid. And now here I am training for my first 50 miler (The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler to be exact…shoutout if I will see you there!).
To be totally honest I am still not sure how or why I am tackling a 50 mile race. It seems absolutely ridiculous at face value. To be even more honest it can start to feel really overwhelming and like a terrible mistake when you dwell on the big number.
Then I remember that there are aid stations ever 3 to 5 miles. That means I just have to run those short distances, rest and grab a snack, then do it again. Several times over. Ok a lot of times over. But the point is that it is broken down into little manageable chunks with a tangible reward at the end of each. A sandwich, some gummy bears, dry socks…those are the things that make you feel like you can get started again.
In running your mental game is just as important as, if not more important than, your physical ability. Now please don’t go try to run a major distance without training. There are many scientific reasons, including possible death, that this is a really bad idea. That said, if you put your mind to it and really really want it, there is nothing you cannot do and no distance you cannot conquer.
So how do you run that far?
One foot in front of the other and repeat until you can’t…then go a few steps more.