It was two years ago this fall that I ran a marathon. Despite always being an athlete, I never considered myself a “runner” and had barely run more than a couple miles at any given time. But in early 2009 I set a personal goal: This year I would run a marathon. I even posted it on Facebook, perhaps hoping that putting the statement out into the world would make it more real and force me to continue on and not back down from my goal.
Goals of any sort, and particularly fitness goals, take some planning and preparation. I did some research and found a marathon in my area that was taking place a healthy enough distance in the future that I could be adequately prepared. I downloaded a six-month training plan for “beginning” runners, copied it over month by month to a big wall calendar and went out and bought a ventilated running hat. And then I hit the pavement. I trained throughout the late spring, summer and fall. I ran while on vacation, I ran despite thunderstorms and 100 degree afternoons, I ran even when it was the last thing I wanted to do.
On Oct. 25, 2009 I crossed the official finish line at the Cape Cod Marathon. It remains one of the most physically challenging and electrifying experiences of my life. While the memories of pain and fatigue from those 26.2 miles have long since faded away, it is the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and triumph that has remained. I wasn’t one of those people who just decided to run a marathon and did it easily. The odds were against me, but I set my mind to it and accomplished something that I wasn’t sure my body could handle. But it did, and now I know that if I set a goal, create a plan, and execute than plan, I will be successful.
In the Fall Fitness Program we give you many different ways to get in shape and stay in shape. Hopefully you will set—and achieve—some fitness goals of your own.
Originally published in November 2011