hero, n. A man or woman of superhuman strength, courage, or ability, favoured by the gods; esp. one regarded as semi-divine and immortal
Some of you reading this may have run a marathon before, some may have already run a marathon this year, some may be about to run a marathon and others are maybe dreaming of running one in the future. With the Virgin London Marathon just a week away, I wanted to share my thoughts and I’m sure many of you who have run marathons will agree with me.
Who do we define as a hero? Someone who has done something outstanding? Someone who has run a marathon? Is it someone like Mo Farah or Eddie Izzard or the guy with an incredible story who has run a marathon in the name of a friend or family member and raised lots of money for charity? Have you ever considered for a minute that by running a marathon, you have become a hero?
Heroes can mean different things to different people but I believe that anyone who runs 26.2 miles is a hero. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to do it, the 5 or 6 hour runner has put the same amount of effort in as the 3 hour runner, if not more given they are running almost twice as long. The slower runner has also put in the months of training the same as the faster runner.
Completing 26.2 miles doesn’t take a certain kind of person to be able to run it. It takes discipline and commitment to dedicate 3 or more months to train for this day. With a spring marathon, this means getting out in the cold and wet when it would be more tempting to stay indoors. It takes a lot to resist the temptation, and potentially reject the opportunity, of a night out because you’ve got to get up and run a long way the next morning. And that’s just the training!
It takes a lot courage, strength and determination to get round the course, often finding strength and courage that you didn’t know you had, to get yourself to the finish when your body is telling you to stop. It’s widely known among marathon runners that the marathon actually starts at mile 20, when the body is starting to run out of energy. This is the point where you start to ask questions of yourself, shout at yourself to keep going or listen to the spectators willing you to keep on going.
If you think you’re alone in those last 6 miles when you’re feeling it big time while everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing then you couldn’t be more wrong. Any runner, regardless of their level of experience, has been there, wondering why they thought running a marathon was a good idea, and that feeling wasn’t necessarily in their first race. It has happened to us all whether it has been in the first or 21st marathon, we’ve either paced it badly or a pain has appeared for the first time or something has happened that either we weren’t prepared for or had neglected in training and has come back to bite us on the bum.
The key thing though is that we all get to the finish, either by shouting at ourselves, reminding ourselves of why we’re doing it, the charity who stands to benefit, the person that we are remembering or the stranger who has been running alongside us has taken it upon themselves to drag us out of our state of mind and keep us going to the finish. Something deep inside us has decided that this is not the day we fall but that we pick ourselves up and get to the end so that we can complete our task.
The spirit of the marathon is what I love about running, about being surrounded by people with the same hopes and fears as me, about being with people who have either got an amazing story to tell or simply have an unshakeable belief that they will do this. It is about a gathering of people wanting the best for themselves but also wanting the best for everyone else sharing this experience, like one big family.
A hero can be someone else who has achieved something spectacular but if you look closely, it could be yourself for somehow achieving something you may never previously have believed possible, overcoming doubts and discomfort to finish what you set out to do.
The truth is, when you cross that finish line, you have done something that many people you look up to have never done and you have the medal and memories to prove you did it.
“We can be heroes…..just for one day”
What do you think? Do you consider yourself to be a hero?