A Marathon of Experiences: What I learned from running 18,270 km and Beyond

Running in Luxembourg

Chapter I: Humble Beginnings

There's a certain romantic naivety to my running story. It started simply enough, with a girlfriend and a casual 2km park race. Despite my gym-rat physique, fortified by protein shakes and punishing workout routines, I lagged behind her swift, slender figure within five minutes. This experience, humbling as it was, ignited a spark within me. A hunger to conquer the 10-kilometer mark arose, a goal that seemed daunting to a former last-place school runner.

To get there, I began running every alternate day, gradually pushing my boundaries. My sister, an endurance sport enthusiast herself, added fuel to my newfound passion, daring me to join a 10km Adidas race. Despite initial doubts, I embarked on this journey, setting a sub-50-minute goal for myself. To my amazement, I hit the mark and was enveloped in an unforgettable wave of accomplishment.

Running, however, is not a path strewn with roses. Early spring in Vienna can bring unexpected heat waves, slowing you down and threatening to shatter your morale. My new love for running kindled a fierce determination within me, despite seeing old schoolmates run faster. This reality was intimidating, but it served as a vital test of my growing resolve and resilience.

Chapter II: Crafting Consistency

Running, I soon realized, was as crucial to my daily routine as brushing my teeth. The concept of 'not running' was as alien to me as 'not brushing.' I embodied discipline, always following through with promises to myself, fueled by a fear of personal disappointment. The actual act of running, the pounding pavement and the rhythmic breaths, often took a back seat to the rewarding rush that flooded in post-run - a feeling that no wealth or achievement could replicate.

Chapter III: Body Transformed, Health Amplified

Along this journey, my body underwent a transformation. I traded bulk for endurance, dropping from 105 kg to 87 kg without drastic dietary changes. My diet evolved naturally towards carbohydrates, fuelling my body for more movement. My resting heart rate plummeted, and an inner calm prevailed, reflecting my improved fitness levels. From struggling to run 2 km, I found myself crossing the finish line of a half marathon - a feat that filled me with immense pride and joy.

Chapter IV: Resilience, the Mental Marathon

The longest race is always the one within. Running pushed me to my limits, teaching me the essence of resilience. It made me engage in a silent dialogue with myself, battling the inner voice that screamed 'stop' with the mantra of 'just a little more.' Drawing strength from perceived negativity - the laughter of friends, family, or imagined adversaries - I pushed beyond my limits, turning every 'can't' into a 'can'. This resilience spilled into my daily life, serving as a comforting reminder during tough times that I've already endured countless gruelling miles on foot.

Chapter V: Of Milestones and Memories

Berlin Marathon

My running journey is studded with numerous milestones. From my first 10km race under 50 minutes, a heartening half-marathon with a pace of 4:40, to my first marathon in scorching Vienna, each accomplishment served as a stepping stone towards more formidable challenges. My thirst for improvement brought me under the tutelage of Willhelm Lilge, leading to a significant 5k timing of 18:45, a personal record I hold in high regard.

Chapter VI: Life Lessons on the Track

Running, with its highs and lows, imparted invaluable life lessons. It taught me the art of resilience, the power of discipline, and the insignificance of external validation. It reinforced the importance of self-belief and instilled in me a 'how bad do you want it?' mindset. Through my journey, I realized that running, much like life, isn't merely about reaching the destination but rather about enjoying the ride and growing along the way.

Epilogue

As I look back at my running journey spanning half a decade, I realize the importance of the mental component, especially when physical gains begin to plateau. As for future goals, I aim to break the 40-minute 10k barrier and run a sub-1:30 half marathon.

To those poised on the cusp of their own running journey, my advice is simple: Just run. Mix up your distances, incorporate intervals, rest every third week, and most importantly, have fun. Bask in the thrill of the sprint, the endurance of the distance, and savor that first bite of bread or gulp of water post-run. Through it all, embrace running not just as a sport, but as a lifestyle that brings balance and perspective to life.

Run Lux