Earlier this year I decided that this would be the year that I finally enter and complete a marathon. It’s something that has long been on my bucket list but I’ve managed to make an excuse not to do it every year up until now.
You know how that goes – it’s easy to make an excuse to not go after something we want, when we’re not prepared to make the needed sacrifices to get it.
The Dublin City Marathon is on in October every year and given the fact that Dublin is my hometown, this is the one I decided to do. So in February of this year I put on my running shoes (or what I thought qualified as running shoes) and began to run. About two weeks later I quit running.
“I’ve go too many projects on the go already.”
“Do I really even want to do this? Why would anyone want to run 26.2 miles?”
All of the old excuses came back and I allowed them to stop me again. I reasoned with myself that there was loads of time left to start training for the marathon, and that I’d pick it up again nearer the time. A reasoning that I’d used more than once in the past.
This time is different though. 16 weeks ago I started running again. Overweight, unfit, and in actual running shoes this time I started to train. And I haven’t stopped since. As I write this post the marathon is 20 days away and I’m really happy to be able to say that I feel confident that I can, and will, do it.
What has made it different for me this time is that I have more of a reason to do it. My ‘why’ is greater than ever before. The Swiss Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl once wrote that “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can endure almost any ‘how’.” This is true not just for living, but for anything that we wish to accomplish in life. If we have a big enough ‘why’ (reason to do it), then we will find a way to make it happen.
If you want to do something badly enough you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.
In my work as a psychotherapist I look to help my clients in an holistic way. I understand that what affects the mind also affects the body and the soul and I know that treating symptoms alone (depression, anxiety, etc) is not enough. And so I regularly encourage clients to see the big picture of their lives and identify all that they need in order to be well – and to be happy.
There is no shortage of evidence to show how movement and exercise benefit not just the body, but also the mind. It’s something that I’ve experienced not just professionally, but personally too at various times in my life.
Running, in particular, seems to be something that can have a profound impact on how we feel. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I have clients who have literally ran their way out of depression, and there are public figures who champion running as a path to mental health and wellness. Niall Breslin (Bressie) is a great example of this in Ireland.
Having worked with clients who have experienced massive transformations in their lives through running, and knowing professionally the impact that it can have, I wanted to experience this for myself. I wanted to get a full and personal experience of the power that running has over the mind especially.
The more I learn about people, the more I realise there is to learn, and sometimes it’s not enough to know things intellectually alone. Sometimes you have to jump into the trenches and experience something first hand so you can truly know it.
So this time my reason for running the marathon is bigger. I’m aiming for the peak experience that follows an accomplishment such as this, and I’m aiming for another aspect of experiential learning about just how powerful our minds are. But there’s more.
When your ‘why’ is bigger than you are, it is a most powerful thing indeed.
This marathon will have a huge positive impact on me. To be honest, it already has and I’m still just training for it. But my running this marathon can have a positive impact that reaches beyond myself if I run it for a charity, and that’s what I’ve decided to do.
I’m running the 2016 Dublin Marathon for Mental Health Ireland, a charitable organisation that does a tonne of work for mental health across Ireland. If you’d like to help me to help them by sponsoring my 26.2 miles you can do so here:
Many thanks in advance :-)
Once I’ve completed the marathon I will write another post to share what I’ve learned and experienced as a result, and to maybe even inspire you to take on a running challenge of your own.
Until then, wish me luck!
David “I don’t hate running anymore” Hamill