Soggy Jogging: On Marathons and Motivation

Soggy Jogging, a running running column, chronicles one man’s running thoughts, including those he thinks as he preps for his first full marathon. 

Three weeks through training and my lower body has decreed mutiny. Full-out rebellion. Abandon body and ship.

Everything’s fine, except for the blisters bursting, ankles aching, calves cramping, shins shrieking, knees needing chiropractic attention and thighs and hips being fried and whipped.

My groin, and upward, are doing great — arms are doing really great.

Embarking on this journey to 26.2 miles has been quietly exhilarating and exhausting. I feel healthy and like there aren’t enough naps in the world. By the time this story hits our new newsstands, my fellow Jog Hog Aug and I will have collectively pounded out nearly 100 miles, almost exclusively at the Wellness Center. And I know there is a dizzying amount of laps on that track to go.

“Why?” asks the normal person. “Why are you inflicting this torture upon yourself?”

I pause, which is what you shouldn’t do while treading on a treadmill.

Only a half percent of the American population has completed a marathon, according to a 2012 study by Runners World, Everyday Health. I’m special, but more special than 99.5 percent of the U.S.?

According to a follow-up study I just conducted and published in my brain, the stats probably play out like this: about 50 percent of Americans are not able to physically train and run a marathon; some 49 percent chose another, less sweaty, hobby. And not everyone who starts training for a marathon finishes one, accounting for that other half of a percent. Voila — that’s your breakdown of the 3.17 million “normal” non-marathoners in America.

Why do I need to not be like them? I have always crusaded against normalcy, but not to the magnitude of a marathon. Usually, my fight against the arbitrary societal system starts and ends with me clucking at people who assign linguistic prestige to Greco-Latinate words. Telling folks “receive” isn’t inherently better than “get” doesn’t make me break a sweat.

Jogging is wet and time-consuming. I know my ego isn’t running this race to be quirky.

I am running this race because I am physically functional enough to do so.

That seems too simple of an answer, but I think that’s my motivation.

I work at a nursing home as a certified nursing assistant, and I regularly work with people who can’t walk, people who can’t talk, people who just can’t.

I can, and I need to do something with that privilege.

My hope is that in 70 years, I’ll look back at this article while sitting in my wheelchair after brunch, and I will smile. I’ll smile because I did what I could while I could. If that means my lower extremities hate me today, that’s OK. Because hopefully in May I’ll be in that half-percent club.

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