Episode 26.2! How Has Marathon Training Changed You?

We started podcasting eight years ago and this week we finally reached episode #262!!

Since the number 26.2 represents the distance of a marathon we deiced to ask our listeners how the process of training for a marathon has changed them. Runners from all over the world called in and left a voice mail and we are amazed by the stories and insights they shared!

Big thanks to everyone who called in and wrote in to tell us how marathon training has changed them. In this episode you will hear short audio clips from 25 different callers. We also received the following wonderful emails . . .

Change in Mindset

The tag line of the MTA is “Run a Marathon and change your life”. I would posit that training for a marathon will change your life. I am about halfway through my training and I am a totally different runner than I was just a few short months ago. My legs are stronger and my endurance is at a point that I didn’t think was possible. The biggest change is in my mindset – I feel like anything is possible. I am no longer nervous about doing my 1st marathon but excited about the challenge. -Dave

Confidence to Go the Distance

Before I started on my fitness journey at age 49, I would have told you that I was full of self confidence.  But I had no clue what I was capable of.  I have been in sales for many years and have had some success at that.  But it was mainly because I am good with people and sales are about relationships.

In 2015, I started running.  I did some 5k’s and 10k’s.  My 1st race at both distances was a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s because my mom is battling Alzheimers.  Running quickly became a source of stress relief and I lost 100 pounds.  I am always wanting to see how far I can push myself so I trained for a half marathon, ran the race and was hooked.  I immediately knew I was going to sign up for a marathon. 

I started training for the marathon and that is when the magic started to happen.  There are several things that happened that changed me.  I watched the movie Patriots Day and it motivated me to want to one day run Boston.  Once I got into the long runs of 15 miles or more, the demons of self-doubt and desire to quit to avoid the pain became real.  I did every run by myself. 

I committed to stick with the plan.  I remember my feet hurting and feeling weak with 5 miles to go and just praying to God to give me the strength to keep pushing forward.  Some days were harder than others, but I started and finished every single run on my plan.  The confidence to meet any adversity grew out of those long Saturday runs.  Even before I actually ran the marathon, I gained the absolute confidence that no matter what the task, if you follow the plan with a sincere effort that is laid out by someone who has been there before and succeeded, it can be done. 

Once I ran the race, I was an emotional wreck.  I was so proud.  Losing 100” pounds is great, but joining the club of 1 percenters is amazing.  I now have many short term goals to work towards to help me get qualified for the Boston Marathon.  MTA Coach Lynn and MTA are a part of my team of experienced winners.  I have absolute confidence in success.  Sometimes it happens quickly and sometimes slowly.  I take real pleasure in the process of getting there.  It is a journey not an event.  Thanks MTA for taking me on and helping me on my journey.  Sincerely, -Marty Gardner

No Longer Living in Fear, on the Couch

I spent the majority of my first 40 years sad, depressed, and unhappy and I thought about suicide often.  My wife told me she wanted a divorce just days before my 40th birthday.  I was scared and decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone.  I hated running but I love Disney.  So I decided to run a race at Disney.  It would be out of my comfort zone but being at Disney would motivate me.  So I signed up in March of 2014 for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I had 7 months to go from a 250 pound couch potato to being able to run this race. 

Along the way I ran a 10k and did so well I decided I’d be a genius and sign up for a full marathon 2 weeks after my Disney race. I finished the 10 mile race in the top 5% of runners and my life began to change. I was now experiencing life.  No longer was I living in fear on the couch.  Then two weeks later I went to my first full marathon.  I had no family of friends there.  I went on my own, scared to death. Although I got cramps in both hamstrings at mile 18 and had to walk to rest of the race I finished in just over 5 hours and my life hasn’t been the same since. Running has shown me a whole new way of seeing life. Thanks, -Scott

Learning Diligence

I just gave a talk in church today on “Diligence”. I made the comparison of the diligence it took for me to be able to run marathons. I didn’t just wake up as a marathoner, but it required me to train, sacrifice, and keep at it for a long time. I made the comparison of the diligence spoke of in Hebrews 11:6. As a result of my marathon training, I can make comparisons and analogies of perseverance, diligence, dedication, overcoming trials and adversities, and many other important life topics. I love you guys and I love your podcast!! –Richard Jones

Seeing it All Come Together

Trevor and Angie, I am currently in the process of training for my first marathon, and wow let me tell you….I am not the same person I was when I started my training in June. I just graduated from college and was looking for something new to challenge myself, and give me something I could do
for myself.

I was waiting to see if I got into law school, what my next steps would be, and I needed to have control of something in my life, so I started running. I told myself if I could make it through a month of a training program, then I would sign up for a marathon because, what an ultimate goal!

I have been known to quit on things very easily when things get tough in regards to fitness, and I had actually signed up for a marathon in the past and ended up not running because I literally did not train at all. After I ran my first 10-miler, I decided to sign up for it. I decided it was time to do this and prove to myself that I can conquer anything I set my mind to and wanted, and I was doing this for myself.

My family did not understand what I was trying to gain from this and were afraid I would get injured. While I will admit I am accident prone, I didn’t let that stop me from running. I have done all of my training by myself. I wish I had a running group, but I also think being by myself taught me so many lessons about accountability, confidence, courage, and strength. When I didn’t have anyone to cheer me on or encourage me through the 16 and 18-mile runs, I was there for myself. 

I believe ultimately, we, ourselves, should be our biggest cheerleaders. This journey has given me so much self-confidence, to say “Yeah, I ran 18 miles this weekend,” Our bodies are capable of so much, and I have seen that through my training. I have loved being able to encourage myself through each mile with saying, “come on, you’re almost there!” and “Think of how proud you will feel!”  I think one of the important takeaways from this journey is that I have done this for myself.  I get excited and nervous butterflies thinking about my actual marathon.

I know I have put in the work, and the mileage, and the mental strength. I am excited to see it all come together and reach the destination of this journey! Thank you for all of the knowledge and support, Angie and Trevor. I would have been lost this summer without your podcast and MTA! Best Regards, -Nicole Cote

How You Think and Feel About Yourself

Long before I started listening to MTA, I heard people say running a marathon would change your life. So, I was a little disappointed when I crossed the finish line of the Gobbler Grind in November 2017 and felt exhausted but not really different. Then, I realized it was the process leading up to the marathon that changes how you think and how you feel about yourself.

Through that process, I learned I could do something very challenging but I also learned there were certain things I had to do to be successful — such as planning and following a calendar and getting advice. Although I’m a lone runner I called upon the encouragement and advice of many acquaintances and people I didn’t know personally to become a stronger and smarter runner.

I started running after my brother, who was three years younger than me, died unexpectedly after collapsing during his 154th marathon. I started running to help cope with my grief and to try to get to know better the running community that loved him. I learned that physical activity does help. I think the endorphins that make you feel good also open your emotions in other ways, and sometimes you can cry for a bit and feel better. Finally, through running, along with the other things going on in my life, I learned that you can’t rely on one thing to change your life. But something such as running can help you be strong and adventurous in other areas.

You can adopt a new identity as a runner but that will still be just part of who you are. It’s all good. #R4J -Heidi Wells

Calm and Focused

Marathon training has taught me so much, but one of the skills I’ve been able to apply to everyday life has been a kind of serenity brought on by preparation in the lead-up to challenges. Trusting the training in a way. I once wrote about an exam situation in the Facebook group and how while waiting for the big exam to start, I felt calm and focused, like when I wait for the bang at the marathon start line. Another big one is perseverance through challenges which I hope to be able
to make use of during labour when the time comes to have my baby. Kind regards, -Ida

Grit and Gratitude

When I think of the marathon training experience, there are really two words that resonate – grit and gratitude. Grit is a pretty obvious one for most runners – that quality of digging deep within oneself when the going gets tough.

For my first marathon which I ran last year, I wore a shirt that has a great deal of meaning and significance to me. I am from Pittsburgh and a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In recent years the Pirates had endured 20 straight losing seasons, a historic losing streak in all of sports. But in 2013, the Pirates broke through and made the playoffs. As the game approached, my brother and his family sent me a Pirates shirt that I wore as I watched them get a victory.

That game embodied that gritty quality of overcoming adversity, fighting back, and celebrating the character of where we have come from and who we are. Sadly, my brother died the next year, in late 2014. For me, this shirt was a tangible representation of my brother and all that we shared, my gratitude for his life and my admiration for his fighting spirit. 

Many runners have a practice of dedicating a race to a person or a cause. I dedicated my first marathon race to my brother, but also more broadly to all of those living with mental illness and the challenges that it brings. In my both personal and professional life, I have been privileged to walk alongside so many inspiring people overcoming challenges and adversity.

My journey of running 26.2 miles is very trivial in comparison to these challenges. However, my experience is that distance running connects me to some inner quality of grit that contributes to remarkable resilience of the human spirit. This was a true gift of the marathon training journey.

One of the most surprising aspects of distance running has been the gratitude that emerges in my heart when I run longer distances. But I think this is an experience that many runners can connect with and one that propels us forward that gratitude for feeling our feet on the trail, the breeze on our skin, the simple act of moving our bodies. It’s really hard to capture in words.

One of my favorite reflections on running is by the Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge who once said “I don’t run with my legs, I run with my mind and heart”. This says it all for me. When I can embody a space of grit and gratitude in my mind and heart, this makes the whole experience worth it. For me, that is where the magic is and where marathon training has changed my life. -Aaron

Now Seen as a Healthy Person

How has marathon training changed my perspective and life? I don’t think I can summarize it in a few sentences- but I will try to hit the highlights. I started running in January 2013 at the age of 42 and I am about to start training for marathon #5. I found MTA while training for my second marathon.

I wanted to become a runner because so many successful people I had read about or knew were runners. What I was looking for was a way to become better at managing my career while losing weight.  What I found was a way to improve my professional life and my personal life while becoming healthy.

I love just about everything to do with marathon training. Training is something that I have control over. I decide on my goals for the race. Then each day I decide whether or not to get up in the morning and run the miles
on my training plan. I decide whether or not I make time for my PT exercises. I decide if I am going to eat 2 cookies …or 8 cookies.  There are so many parts of our day that we do not get to decide, but marathon training has made me realize that I have control over more things that I thought I did.

During my long runs I get the chance to figure out which decisions each day are the most important to me and how to accomplish more than just my race goals. Training has changed my perspective to recognize and acknowledge my own, and other people’s accomplishments, and how hard people work to reach their goals (instead of thinking things come easy for “those other people”).

In addition to changing my perspective, marathon training has changed other people’s perspective of me. I am now known as a ‘healthy person’. Marathon training has made me realize that your identify is not set in stone. Anyone can change their life and their perspective on life during any decade of their life. Crossing the finish line of that first marathon isn’t where my life was changed. It was slowly changed over multiple training cycles and hundreds of runs, so slowly that I can’t say when that change happened. But it has happened and it has changed my life for the better and MTA is one of the best parts of my running experience. -Suzanne

Running and Training has Kept Me Fighting

I started running four years ago to combat severe depression and anxiety. I was 31 years old and hadn’t lived the most healthy life before starting running. It has been one of the only things in life that I have begun on my own accord for my own reasons. After a year and a half I entered the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and last year I ran my first full at the Richmond Marathon.

I learned to set multiple goals from the podcast and I finished in 3:11:50 (yes, every second counts). Running and training has kept me fighting to get through a post-surgery DVT, crippling depression, severe anxiety, divorce, suicide attempt, relocating and many other things.

This all influenced me to join the SpeakUp Race Team raising funding for the Cameron K. Gallagher foundation which goes towards education on teenage depression and anxiety. Being a SpeakUp Team Member has helped add more purpose to each and every run. It even helped me commit to running the Erie Marathon and the JFK 50 Miler to use as motivation and fundraising tools.

I am super excited to say that I was able to BQ with a 3:04:53 at the Erie Marathon and am excited about running Boston in 2019. Thank you for all your wisdom! –Eric Suvak

Opportunities to Serve

I have been running for a long time. All through school I ran, and have continued to where I am now. I just completed my 30th marathon this past week. Even with all my running the change that happened to me was three years ago. It was the spring after my wife and I had our 1st child. I was training for the Salt Lake marathon and I felt like my training was very selfish and taking over other responsibilities. I actually prayed about it and wanted my running to be more about sharing this talent of running I have.  

A couple of weeks passed and I got a message from an old co-worker asking if I could push a child with disabilities. So that Saturday I pushed a boy named Reese in a 10k, and the races have not stopped for the past 3 years. Reese and I have done everything from a 5k to triathlon to marathons. He has changed me as a runner because I don’t think about me or how bad I hurt or tired I am. I just focus on Reese and how happy he is. He can’t talk, but anytime he sees me he gets the biggest smile on his face because he knows it is time to race.

We have had some pretty crazy times out on the course together. His mom, Carla, is a saint and will always say “thanks for being his loaned legs”. Carla also got me into pacing races too. Pacing has been awesome too because I don’t think about myself, I am more worried about the people I am pacing who are trying to get a PR or BQ.

This last Saturday I paced Huntsville and it was HOT. It was difficult to not complain about the heat, but as a pacer if I had started complaining, it would have made it harder for the people I was pacing. I am grateful for running and how it has changed me to not focus on myself. I am grateful that I can serve others through running.

Running is a individual sport, but there are some amazing opportunities to serve those around us through our crazy sport. It does not have to be what I have done it can be as simple as writing a name of someone on your arm and doing the race in their honor or running for a charity. Things like that can change the focus and purpose of your training and racing. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I did not run and have the opportunities to serve that I have. I am a huge advocate for pushing people in races literally and metaphorically and just serving others through running. Thanks again, -Andy


Also Mentioned in This Episode

Boston Qualifying Times Change. The Boston Athletic Association announced that they’re tightening up qualifying standards for the 2020 marathon by 5 minutes. The cut off time for qualifiers this year was 4:52 and of 30,458 applicants there were 7,384 Boston Marathon qualifiers that were shut out. The cut off was 3:23 for the 2018 race. https://www.baa.org/2019-boston-marathon-qualifier-acceptances

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