Fiercely committed to achieving this goal, I got right to work. But there were plenty of obstacles along the way.
Stymied by injuries, my running was all start and stop. How was I supposed to make any progress when I was constantly sidelined with pain?
I became so frustrated that I visited a physical therapist friend of mine. I told him about my setbacks and my goal of becoming a successful marathoner.
He looked me up and down and said, “Matt, you weren’t built to be a runner. You’re short and your legs don’t have the right shape (I’m slightly bowlegged). If you want to become really good at something, you should pick another sport.”
That statement hit me like a blow to the gut.
As I walked out of his office, I knew I was going to have to work even harder. I may not have the ideal runner’s body, but I did posses a deep burning desire to reach my goal. A desire that was strong enough to overcome any physical imperfections.
Have you ever felt like you weren’t built to be a runner? You don’t have those long, lean legs and the stride of gazelle?
Listen: I’ve run 16 marathons and in each one I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes cross the finish line. There are overweight runners, runners with duck-feet, bowlegs, short and stocky legs, and everything in between.
So don’t believe for one second that to run a marathon you need to look like the people you see on the cover of Runner’s World. Hundreds of thousands of everyday people complete marathons each year. Your body type isn’t as important as some people make it seem.
Now, I wish I could tell you I immediately improved my running after that first marathon, but that’d be a lie. I constantly battled injuries: knee pain, shin splints, and sore feet. You name it, I had it at some point.
My training was still all start and stop. I’d cruise through my runs for a couple months and then get hurt and be couch-ridden for weeks.
But I kept at it. I pressed on. And along the way, I discovered techniques that committed marathoners use to build their endurance.
I learned the secrets of making my body durable. I even found a number of widespread myths that were ruining my chances. I stopped following this dangerous advice and things got better.
Slowly, my injuries faded away and my mileage increased: 10-mile runs, 15-mile runs, 20-miles…
And then finally… four years later… after much trial and error…