The first ever marathon was run by Greek soldier, Pheidippides, who ran 25 miles (42.2km) from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens, to announce victory against the Persians. After delivering the words “Niki!” (“victory!”), Pheidippides keeled over and died.
And yet, ever since, despite the fact that this poor Pheidippides DIED running this distance, millions of people all around the world compete in the holy, heartbreaking, amazing race known as the marathon.
And for what?
For chafe, for blisters, for black toenails, for stress fractures, for heat rash, for dehydration and exhaustion. For the absolute passion.
Like the Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage for any Christian, Mecca a pilgrimage for any Muslim, Burning Man a pilgrimage for any festival goer, a marathon is a pilgrimage for any runner.
In the words of Nike, you’ve gotta just do it.
Whether you’re a sprinter, a Saturday morning latte jogger, a track-queen or a bus-chaser, the marathon is just sitting there in the back of your mind, slowly grinding away at the clock. Because you know one day that the marathon itch is going to turn into a scratch. I completed in my first ever marathon this year, up on the sunny Gold Coast in Australia. And like those gone before me, there was the stress of not making the distance, the bruises and blisters and battered body parts. But like my fellow marathonees, the spirit of the marathon really spurred me on, pushing me towards that 42.2km finish line. The GC Marathon really brought together the whole community, with families and flatmates hosting mini parties in their front yards to cheer on the athletes.
We’ve all heard how good physical health can help our mental health.
The truth is, when I was training for the marathon, everything else in life seemed to fall into place. I was more organised because I had to be more organised to fit in over 6 hours of running a week (plus additional cross training) alongside my 40 hrs of work, side hustle, social life and down time. Knowing that when I finished work I had to run in the dark for 1.5hours before joining my mates for dinner was actually fun. I pushed myself harder to train and to fit in more social fun, study time and work time because I knew my hours were limited. They always say that with busy people hey? The less time you have, the more organised you become.
And for me, the happier I became!
Running so many kilometers a week meant I could catch up on all of my fave podcasts and any new albums I’d missed out on. It meant I could eat that extra piece of cake or Mars Bar A DAY because I needed it. No seriously, I ate SO MUCH FOOD. I normally limit myself to one sweet thing a day - banana loaf, cake, piece of choc – but when training I was munging down on anything and everything in sight. I also loved seeing my body change as my muscles adapted to their new workload.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the slump I would feel about 2 weeks post-race. The day itself was phenomenal, literally one of the best things I have ever done. Up to two weeks afterwards I was still rocking that high, as friends and family asked how I went.
Shortly after the 2 week break, I started to slump again.
It was winter in Melbourne, it was dark by 6pm and FREEZING. Because I didn’t have to train, I didn’t and I quickly fell back into a, bad cycle of not being bothered to work out, eating poorly and feeling sorry for myself.I suffer from the SADS (self-diagnosis FYI), so when it’s cold and without a goal in mind, it only made winter worse. Training for the marathon really helped with not only my physical health, but my mental health as well. So as a pledge for myself (and to get that ball rolling again and get back to that spirit of the marathon high), I’m partaking in Project Happiness’ Race for Wellness as part of the boss team “Vegemite Sandwich.” If anyone out there is in need of a mental or physical pick me up, I definitely recommend taking up running. A marathon is a massive step but there are plenty of fab Couch-to-5Km programs around. And if you're still in need of some inspo for running, watch “Chariots of Fire” and you’ll never turn back.
About Claudia Conley
Hi I’m Claudia and I’m from Melbourne. I come from a family of runners and travellers. I work in PR, have a peanut butter obsession, drink black coffee and produce a podcast (who doesn’t these days). Someone once told me that I’m a wannabe white Donna Summer and honestly that’s the best compliment I’ve ever received. I LOVE the heat, the hotter the better and I’m still on a mission to find my lost abs. Disappeared at Christmas 2012. If found please get in touch.