To be honest, this has been a tough article to write. I was going to talk about how training isn’t the only challenge, but how managing life can also be tough when you add in the commitment of a marathon. The more I wrote, the more I could see that it was a boring article.
So I thought about it, and there is always one question that comes into my head, whether I’m out for a 4 hour ride, or running anything more than a 5k: Why am I doing this?
I’m sure you all have asked yourselves that at one point. It could be a beautiful day while training, or racing in absolutely horrible conditions, but in either situation, you are pushing yourself through something that most people think is nuts.
Ask a “normal” person what they think about riding 70 miles, or running 13, or just try to explain a cyclocross race to them. They think you are nuts. Why would anyone want to go through not only the pain of the effort, but also the soreness that follows. Ask an endurance athlete why they do it, and they can talk for hours, and you might not get an answer.
There has to be a reason why we are willing to push through the pain to complete these challenges. For 99% of us, it’s not money or fame, because we are not elite athletes. Well, maybe some people reading this are, but the vast majority of us are age groupers and amateurs doing what we do.
So back to the question: Why do we do it?
We all have our reasons, and they are not always the same. There was a cyclocross race last season that sticks out in my mind the most. It was pouring down rain, cold, just absolutely miserable. Parts of the course were mud pits while others were practically swimming pools. Even hardcore veterans were pulling from their races because they couldn’t feel their hands or feet. I knew I had no chance of winning the race, yet I still started the race.
As others abandoned, I kept going. My hands were numb, and I was in last place, but when I asked myself why I was still riding, it was for the pride of finishing the race.
When my wife and I ran my first half marathon (and her 55th!), as the miles piled on, the question came into my head again. This time, it was a very different reason.
My father-in-law was battling pancreatic cancer at the time. It was his third diagnosis, and he was already well over a year past what doctors projected that he would live. But Tom was fighting, so I kept running. Two and a half hours in, we crossed the finish line and I received my medal. Later on that day, we stopped by to visit Tom and he was so excited to hear about the race, as he always was whenever my wife ran. We gave him one of our medals and they kept it near his bedside as his health slowly declined and he finally lost his battle over a year later in June, 2016.
There is no single answer for why we do what we do. All that matters is the meaning to you, and that it motivates you to keep moving forward, one step, one pedal stroke, one paddle at a time. And if you ever doubt those reasons, there is always one last reason to fall back on …
Because I can.
Scott Kingsley does more than a little bit of everything. A cyclocross racer who found his way into running through his wife, he’s also a journalist, photographer, mechanic and creator of the handcrafted organic beard balms of Lancaster Beard Company. Scott is also the tech editor at BikeWorldNews.com and contributor at VeeFit4Fun Fitness.
Scott is based in Lancaster, PA and is a Veggie Powered Athlete.