One of my top running related pet peeves are the people who respond to my having done multiple marathons with a reply “I could never do that.”
Now, there are a large group of people in the world who have no interest in running 26.2 miles for fun. It’s not a goal for everyone. But I’m not talking about those people. I have no problem with people who would never want to do that.
To each their own.
I am talking about other runners, or people who want to be runners. People who think somewhere in their brain that they would like to try it, but then dismiss it out of hand.
I know I tend to be a fairly easily annoyed person. I don’t have enough hours in the day to go around analyzing my pet peeves. But did try to figure out why this one bothered me as much as it does.
After all, why should it bother me what someone else thinks they can (or cannot) do?
I came up with two reasons.
It Discounts My Training
I appreciate that these people think I am somehow special. That I have accomplished something that mere mortals could not.
However, the way they say it leads me to think they believe I am doing something fundamentally different from what they would do or could do. In doing so, they discount the work that I put into my training. The miles and the stretching and the strength work and the hill repeats. That is what brings any runner to the finish.
It doesn’t take anything special to run a marathon, just a willingness to do the work. I’ve put in the work before each of my marathons.
Anyone can put in the work if they want to.
That is all marathon training is: putting in the work.
It’s a Cop-Out For Them
The other reason that ‘I could never do that’ annoys me as much as does is that by saying it, they are giving themselves permission not to try.
It makes me sad to see people not even try to do things they want to do. I hate to hear people make excuses for themselves or to talk themselves out of setting a goal or putting in the work.
By dismissing the idea of running a marathon (or whatever the goal might be) with a simple ‘I could never to do that,’ they are giving themselves permission to stay solidly in their comfort zone, their little bubble of what they know they can do or what they have done in the past.
Like the inspirational poster says: Nothing amazing ever happens in your comfort zone
I Could Never…
There are so many things in life that I would have said ‘I could never do’ until I actually tried them.
Once upon a time, I thought I could never run a marathon. I could never scuba dive. I could never graduate law school. I could never start a blog. And then one day I decided to try. I started. I put in the work and did them all.
Barring some sort of actual, physical limitation (which are much more rare than many people think – many ‘knee pain’ complaints can be remedied with strength training or other exercises your doctor can point you to), if you want to run a marathon, and you are willing to do the work, you can run a marathon.
Never confuse “I can’t do insert thing here” with “I don’t want to insert thing here.”
It ain’t easy, it will never be easy, I’ve done it 25 times and never once would I describe it as easy. But it is very doable.
And maybe, in the end, you find you really can’t run a marathon for whatever reason.
Even so, there is so much to be gained from the trying.