Life is a marathon, not a sprint – so why not lace up and run the world
Running is a great way to see a city or place; there is a certain delight in turning a corner and finding a new vista to enjoy. Running is not just about pounding out the miles but is about being in that place and time, having it slowly roll before you. I think travel is a similar endeavour and the two should be joined together for an especially unique experience.
Consider, for the sake of argument, you’ve always wanted to visit Paris but never can find that solid reason to go or to convince friends to come along for the trip. Why not enter the Paris Marathon, 1/2 marathon, or the shorter fun runs. You’ll get April in Paris, friends will be your cheer squad, and you’ll get to cross the goal of running a big race off the list. Two birds, one stone…
Here’s how it could look: Trip length: 10 days (Thursday to Saturday = 1 week off work)
Day 1: Arrive in Paris
Day 2: Pick up race packet and validate your start location and time
Day 2 and 3: Explore Paris with friends who have come along to support you (remind them to not let you enjoy too much delicious French wine. Running dehydtrated is not fun and that’s spoken from experience)
Day 4: Race day: Run. Stretch. Shower. Get out and CELEBRATE with your squad
Days 5 – 9 – explore Paris and surrounds
Day 10: Return home as a champion and attainer of goals. You have accomplished something amazing amongst the backdrop of Paris.
Maybe it seems a crazy idea to choose to run a race someplace in the world other than at home but why not? Honestly, it’s a great idea. You’ll be accomplishing something many people dream about doing. This is an excellent idea.
Races are all over the world and most don’t require qualifying times to enter. The majority require registering, paying the fees, and providing medical clearance you are physically able to attempt the race. Many of these races have opportunities to partner with charity organizations to raise funding for research and programs. Another excellent reason to go and race someplace else. Do it for charity.
There’s the Rock-n-Roll series with over 25 different global runs ranging from Chile to Ireland, and all places in between.
There’s the wonderfully zany Medoc marathon which has an annual dress theme and involves running through multiple Bordeaux wineries tasting wine as part of the event.
How about getting your place in history and running the Athens Marathon (you can go sail the Greek Islands once you’re done your 13.1 or 26.2)
Don’t like pavement? There are also off-road trail runs, e.g. Motatapu Icebreaker for those who think pavement is ridiculously flat and hard, preferring dirt trails through nature.
Take a look at the AIMS website for more options than you had an inkling existed. For Sept there are over 45 races listed.
Over the years I’ve run nine half marathons, an unknown number of 5k and 10k races, and a single full marathon but all in the United States local to where I lived at the time. I wish I would have thought about this idea years ago. What a great way to see the world.
I finally figured it out and last April I decided to run the Paris Marathon as an excuse to go wander through Paris, one of my favorite cities. Two friends decided to join me on my quest for an improved marathon time and off we went. We wandered the beautiful streets of Paris breathing in the fresh lilacs and enjoyed the spring flowers in the Tuileries Gardens. We got out and about; toured some Chateaux’s, enjoyed a French winery, took in Versailles, and saw all of the major attractions in Paris. An truly wonderful week with dear friends. How’d the marathon go? It didn’t. I injured myself about 6 weeks before the race and couldn’t run but I was okay with it all. I was in Paris so even as I watched the runners cruise along the Seine pathway off the city street I was okay that I’d injured myself and couldn’t run the race. I got to have Paris and half my dream came true.
So here’s another part of that story. Sometimes the unexpected happens on trips. Mostly it is the kindness of strangers and loveliness of new places but sometimes it’s history. I didn’t get to run the race in Paris but I still got Paris and a moment I’ll never forget. Four days after we wandered through Notre Dame and gazed up into those vaults and the stainglass windows with the sun pouring through, we stood on the banks of the Seine 300 feet away as the fire started and then raged. We watched history unfold. Notre Dame burned. Because I’d decided to enter a race someplace else in the world I ended up in an historic moment covered in the ash of a building where the parade of 1000 years of history had walked through.
Some extra notes from a fellow traveller and runner:
There’s no perfect training regime. Find one that’s has good reviews and is tailored for a regular person who is running.
The first month is an absolutely hellish battle with yourself. Getting out of bed to run becomes a series of 1000 tripwires any one of which can derail you from the training program. Learning the discipline to go regardless of weather, hydration, sleep, etc. is for me the worst.
Month two will find you improving quickly and starting to enjoy the whole process.
Never underestimate the importance of a good playlist that lets you disassociate from your running cadence. Learn to run not on the beat so your pace doesn’t change when the song switches. it’s really hard to do at first but it’s worth it. If you only run with music and your music dies in the middle of a run it’ll be hard to maintain your pace and energy.
What can you expect as you train? CHANGE. welcome it as a friend.
Hours of your life will be spent training both on the road and treadmill when it’s too cold or hot to be outside. it sounds tedious I know, but as the miles increase so does your endurance and the thought of a two-hour run suddenly doesn’t seem torturous. Strange to say but it is, in my experience, true. I doubted it myself.
A slow change to one’s diet and sleep patterns – you’ll naturally eat better, sleep sounder, and have a higher level of energy overall. (another plus? your jeans will start fitting in amazing ways)
There will be a time when a seriously deep understanding of what makes one’s internal organs work or fail will arrive and decisions will be made based accordingly (e.g. I can’t do gels when I run – my gut refuses to acknowledge or process them appropriately)
Soreness in parts of your feet and legs you didn’t know existed will make you do those golf ball rolling foot stretches and foam rollers you’ve been laughing at
The weird – a slow readjustment in relationships that get a bit frayed around the edges when conversations begin to center around the training calendar, food, sleep, PRs, and all aspects of running. This is completely survivable – similar to wedding planning – the world revolves around the training.
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