I have run ten marathons, and I’m planning to run my eleventh this fall. Every single one of them has been a spiritual pilgrimage – a difficult, deeply satisfying journey with unexpected rewards. Training for a marathon pushes me past the limits of what I think is possible, and reminds me that there is always mysteriously more. On long runs, I enter a zone where time feels expansive, and God seems accessible. And during the race itself, I sense what the world could look like if we were united around something to celebrate instead of to fear. Click here to read my blog post on why I run marathons.
I’d like to invite you to join a community of people who will train for and run a marathon this fall as a spiritual pilgrimage. I’m hoping that many first timers as well as marathon veterans will join us.
Who should do this? I believe that anyone who can run 5 miles can run a marathon, as long as your body can withstand the rigors and miles of marathon training. What you need to run a marathon is discipline and desire. Can you stick with a long training program that sometimes causes you pain? Do you really want to run and finish a marathon? It stops being romantic on runs where you feel like you’re out of gas but still have miles to go.
If your answer is yes, here are the questions you’ll need to answer before committing:
1. Do you have time to run 4-5 times a week for the next six months? (This averages out to about an hour a day, though you won’t run every day). At the end of your training, you’ll be running for 3-4 hours continuously on long runs. Since this usually happens on a Saturday or Sunday, if you have a family, you’ll want to make sure they are supporting you in this decision.
2. If you live in a cold climate where you can’t run outdoors, do you have access to a treadmill?
3. Do you have the support of the people in your life who will need to adjust to your training schedule?
4. Is your body in a relatively uninjured condition that can sustain a six month training program?
Assuming you can answer yes to those four questions, here’s what you need to do:
1. Send me a message on Facebook, and tell me which marathon you’re planning to sign up for, and that you’re interested in joining the group “Marathon for Spiritual Pilgrimage.” I will then invite you to join the private Facebook group, where you will connect with other runners and see training plans, inspiring articles, and discussions about running a marathon as a spiritual pilgrimage. This is where we’ll interact with each other. If you’re not on Facebook, I’m sorry – this is by far the easiest way for me to connect with you and for you to connect with others.
2. Sign up for a fall marathon. I will be running Twin Cities Marathon, which is on October 5, 2014. For those of you who live in Minnesota, I’d strongly encourage you to sign up for it – it’s a beautiful urban marathon with lots of fans. Registration begins on February 1st, and it usually fills within the first 10 days or so. Click here to register for the Twin Cities Marathon. (If you register before February 4, you’ll save $10 on the fee). If you don’t live in Minnesota, there are lots of great fall marathons. Here is a list of the top fifteen fall marathons in the U.S. Here’s a list of great fall marathons outside the U.S. You’ll be able to adapt my training schedule for your race no matter where it is.
And just to be clear, for those of us in Minnesota, this group will not be actually running the marathon together. Everybody needs to find their own pace, and running too fast or too slow will severely diminish the joy of running the marathon. Hopefully, runners that live near each other will set up training runs together – that’s all part of the fun of being in a community with a common purpose. And some may find their pace is similar and they’ll choose to run the race together – that’s great! This community will encourage each other, be inspired by each others stories, and will receive some coaching on how to make it through the training program and what markers to look for in terms of spiritual pilgrimage. All of that will primarily happen through the Facebook group. I’m excited!
Feel free to comment below with any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. Once you sign up, we’ll talk through all you’ll need to know, including buying the right shoes (very important) and building a solid base for training.