Marathon Psyching Series: 2. Marathoning: A Path

Leave the first response April 28, 2007 / Posted in Psyching Series

While you can live for years, talking about the marathon you ran, the
endurance lifestyle as mirrored in the marathon calls you and me and all of
us to realize that we are interdependent. We are called to make a
difference, in whatever small way. We are called to run “The Marathon”
called life…well.

Marathoners, family and friends of marathoners, co-workers of marathoners,
anyone knowing someone participating in a Marathon, please pass this series
on to anyone running the first Marathon or thousandth. Or save the series
when you are getting ready for your Marathon. Thanks. Ozzie

Marathoning: A Path, A Direction, A Lifestyle
© 2000, 2002 Austin “Ozzie” Gontang, Ph.D. & International Association of Marathoners

In the past several months several thousand of you accepted the marathon
challenge. You have overcome obstacles both physical and mental and touched
the spirit of the marathon which now lies within you.

To you who followed the blue line through New York City, we acknowledge you
and your efforts. To those who passed the Iwo Jima monument we say, “Well
done.” Past Diamond Head, along Old Highway 101, through thousands of images
locked within your marathoning mind, we remember with you. The feelings and
memories are indelibly imprinted upon your soul. If you don’t believe in the
soul, then those same feelings and memories are indelibly imprinted upon
your inner core. To those of you in the first Rock ÔnÃ. Roll Marathon,
their theme song says itÃ.s all: “Helping our friends along the way.”

So many people, their names unknown, are remembered forever, you having only
traveled a few miles with them within the marathon. Their words somehow
lifting your spirits. Or you theirs…and the gracious parting: “See you
later.” “Do well.” “Keep going.” “Thanks for letting me run with you.” The
face or faces in the crowd imprinted like a digital photo when you close
your eyes and relive moments along the course.

The smells, the sounds, the quieting of panic as a muscle twinge or a sharp
pain rain thoughts of not finishing…and knowing that no matter what, you
will finish. The amazement of the last 2 or 3 miles when you recover your
running speed after having run 6 to 10 miles not knowing if you would
finish. The smile, the tears, the unexpected feelings and emotions and
tears, the moment of inner quiet, the outpouring of gratitude and
thanksgiving, the welling up of tears…at unexpected moments. Where did
that feeling come from? Weeks or months later, being moved to tears at the
athletic artistry of a skater, a gymnast, watching the Iron Man,…my
God…even listening to some music or hearing a poem on NPR.

A nerve ending? Yes. A nerve ending? No. Only a beginning to the metaphor
which you have just lived out publicly as you completed your marathon. For
no one else could do it for you. No one could give you a gift so great or a
challenge so moving. And now you are joined with those who on the plains of
Marathon, did not march lock-step against their opposition. They ran at
their competitors…who were seeking to end the spirit of democracy as known
in Athens. The few overcame the many.

No matter how much you discount your efforts or inflate your exploits of
your marathon, at that moment, at that time, in that place, and with
individuals and a roster acknowledging your presence, you were in the

While you can live for years, talking about the marathon you ran, the
endurance lifestyle as mirrored in the marathon calls you and me and all of
us to realize that we are interdependent. We are called to make a
difference, in whatever small way. We are called to run “The Marathon”
called life…well.

Why many of us do more than one marathon, is that it is a reminder of
practicing all the time to do The Marathon well…and then to see if my mind
and body were in sync on that day of the marathon. In the greatness of the
throngs who surround the marathoner on that day, at that hour in that place,
comes the balance of a black night somewhere in our lives. Looking up at the
Milky Way…which almost looks like a cloud…and knowing for a few moments
again…our place in the universe.

We salute you, who have traveled the Marathon. We salute you who have
allowed us to touch that moment again vicariously…knowing that it is not
about thoughts or memories. Life is about living in the moment. And in the
marathon, we get to experience those moments which touch the spirit we all
share as runner, hunter, food gatherer…or as St. George said, “You are
called to be poet, artist, philosopher, saint and athlete…but first and
foremost be a good animal. In your practice of being a “Good Animal” Joseph
Campbell would reflect that we are only a few breathes away “in universal
time” from our early ancestors. Marathoning has gotten us in touch with our
oft forgotten abilities to go long distance and to endure. Let our runs
after the marathon bring us back to the moment.

While I can share these thoughts with you at the speed of light, I still
must practice what helped our ancestors survive…the ability to run long
distances…if and when necessary. To be a good animal.

As I ran around Mission Bay today, I remembered my fellow Marathoners.
Running for me is my way of practicing. It allows me to be in the moment.

I am not a marathoner because I ran a marathon. I am a marathoner because
while marathoning I bring the being in the moment to my daily life. My
running helps me be a good animal, so that I can do my life consciously and
with mindfulness. But being human, it is a direction in which I move…and
no motivational words can replace the practice. It’s in the doing. When
there are no words, there is only the practice. Know that, when you find
yourself needing words to move you, you have my money back guarantee that
you will find them between 30 and 60 minutes into your run. And it’s a
lifetime guarantee.

Super-Four and Psyching Trance Phrases

Eyes on the horizon: This keeps your head balanced on your shoulders and
saves the trapezius and neck muscles a few hundred calories. Value: Save 5
to 10 minutes added to your time if you look only 5 to 20 feet in front of

Relax your jaw: This whispered phrase along the way will keep your fascial
and jaw muscles from tensing. When you open your mouth, remember that you
are not opening at the front but relaxing where the jaw hinges. That relaxed
jaw will save you from the added two to fifteen minutes from the facial,
neck and shoulder strain over the last 6 to 8 miles.

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