My next half-marathon is December 2 in Memphis. It will be my 5th half-marathon — my 2nd this year — but my first outside of Nashville. I always allow myself two months to train for a half-marathon, which means my training officially began yesterday. I ran just over 4 miles and tackled some unrelenting hills nearby. The objective was to increase physical strength and also endurance. I’ll go on longer runs later on that don’t involve so many hills, but I’m going to make my shorter runs as difficult as I can.
I’ve been running almost exclusively 5K’s since my last half-marathon on April 29. My monthly goal is always at least 50 miles. I was faithful to this goal all during the summer. But summer heat means shorter runs, and it takes quite a few 5K’s to add up to 50 miles. Now it’s turning cooler, so I can begin to lengthen my runs. You won’t be prepared for a half-marathon by just doing 5K’s.
Yesterday, I went to church, then came home and ran. I continued my recent tradition of completely ignoring the NFL. I have not missed “No Fans Left” since cutting it out of my life last year. There are some parts to half-marathon training that are not fun, but even the most demanding half-marathon training still beats the NFL without question.
Let me give a few examples:
- You can spend upwards of $100 on authentic NFL jersey. But why would you spend $100 just so you can wear some other dude’s name on your back when you can purchase a new pair of running shoes for less? I’ll get 350 miles (about 6 months) out of a good pair of running shoes. That’s money well spent.
- Let’s say you go to an NFL game with a friend or maybe your spouse. By the time you fight traffic, pay for parking, buy decent tickets, and eat overpriced concessions, you’ve dropped at least $300, not to mention having invested the better part of your day. Entry fees for the last 3 half-marathons I’ve registered for have totaled less than $300.
- Let’s say your team wins. Congratulations. What have you gained? Maybe you’re in it for the experience or camaraderie with the other fans. That’s great. And if that’s what you want to do with your time and money, then fine. But your joy is going to be fleeting. After all, you’re just piggybacking on someone else’s preparation and game day performance. You didn’t really do anything except make a little noise. Running a half-marathon (or any race of any length) belongs to the runner. He/she isn’t piggybacking on anyone else. If you’re a runner, then its your own preparation and your own race day performance that you get to celebrate.
- In the NFL, you’re paying to watch other athletes perform. In a half-marathon, you are the athlete. The spectators are cheering you and encouraging you. Granted, I’ve never performed at the elite level of an NFL player, I’m not earning millions of dollars, and no one’s asking for my autograph, but I’m also creating my own glory and authoring my own performance. Believe me, the joy and satisfaction I feel after finishing a race dwarfs any joy and satisfaction I’ve ever experienced after watching a professional team win.
- If I watch an NFL game either on TV or in person, I’m largely sedentary. I’m no better off after watching a game. I haven’t improved myself in any way. But running is all about self-improvement. The proof is in the satisfaction you feel after a training run, meeting a goal, or finishing an actual race.