(The short version for those that don’t have patience or want to get the VO2max up)
The marathon is a distance that taxes both the human body and the mind; it is as much a mind game as it is a test of one’s preparation for physically moving one’s legs for 26.2 miles. When it comes to preparing for a marathon, physical training is required whether one has a running background (possibly cross country and track in high school) or using a set plan one found online or elsewhere. But many first time marathoners and even seasoned veterans struggle with finishing 26.2 miles even though they have run 3, or even 4, 20 mile runs in the course of their training.
There are, I believe, two main motivators when it comes to marathon running: personal motivation and charitable motivation. Personal motivation can take the shape of wanting to complete one’s first marathon, desiring to run a Boston qualifying time, or set a personal record (for those non-runners: The Boston Marathon is the oldest and most prestigious marathon but a runner must run a qualifying time in his or her age group to be able to register for Boston; also a personal record is the fastest time a runner has covered a distance in the recent past). For both my first and second marathons, I had personal motivation: first to run a marathon and then to PR (yes PR is a verb; it means to set a personal record).
I don’t intend to take away the weight that self-motivation holds but the most important motivation one can have is charitable motivation. Now it’s not like someone is holding a gun to your head and saying, “If you don’t finish this race, I will shoot you,” (and most of the time the money that you may have raised has already been raised before the race even starts) but the idea that you are not running for yourself is, in itself, a great motivator.
This may put in your mind the idea that a runner would desire to just complete a marathon and not actually race it. But I would discourage you from this idea. My hope is that someone would see charity runners (especially those capable of racing a marathon versus completing a marathon) giving their all in the race and because of this, be prompted to give to the organization which that runner is running for. Maybe, maybe.
—Brayton Kiedrowski, Senior in the Honors Program