Friday, March 23, 2018

Running (Marathons) will keep me alive for a long long time

I just finished running the Los Angeles Marathon. I have plans to run many more marathons in the future. The motivation for running marathons comes from the established positive connection between regular physical activity & immune system health

Boosting one's immune system is teaching & enabling the body to fight the tumor naturally. So I run to be alive. 

I don't have to run marathons. Running shorter distances and for shorter times should do the trick as well. However, I have zeroed in on running marathons as it aligns with my long-term goals, and I find it a much more inspiring goal than running shorter distances.

A little bit of history about my running:
  • I was very physically inactive as a kid, as a teen, and as an early adult. I never participated in any sporting activities at school or had any hobbies around sports. I was more into books and was happy being by myself than join in some physical activity with other kids.
  • Sometime in 2005/2006, I was in Grand Canyon and hiked down and up the canyon in one day. The hike back up was very strenuous, with me walking a minute and resting two minutes towards the end before moving on. The whole hike made me realize I wasn't in a good physical shape, was over-weight, and needed to start on some regular physical activity. I think my cholesterol numbers were also bad at that time, adding to the urgency to start getting physical.
  • That inspired me to start on running regularly, and I ran my first 5K race in Oct, 2006 at the age of 34.
  • Followed it up with my first marathon at Philadelphia in Nov, 2008.
  • And the second marathon in New York in Nov, 2009.

  • Since both my marathons took over 5 hours, I got discouraged looking at how much effort it would take to become faster and finish a marathon in 3 or 4 hours. That made me give up on marathons, and stick to run shorter distances.
  • Being diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer in November 2016 and living with a constant fear of dying soon changed my perspective about marathons. I took up the challenge of running marathons again.
Over the last few years while I wasn't running marathons, I have tried to keep active by running shorter distance races and get faster at them. However, that hasn't helped me keep up a very regular physical activity schedule. Somehow or the other, I end up with a long stretch of time when I haven't had any exercise. So my conclusion is that the goal of running shorter distances (5K, 10K, etc.) does not have the same romantic pull and longer term effect as training for and running a marathon.

An additional motivation for running marathons is the striving to become a faster marathoner and qualify for Boston Marathon at some point in time. That dream somehow got into my head in my early days of running back in 2007/2008. As I learnt through experience how much of an effort it would take - how many hours of lonely running over the years it would take - to accomplish that goal, I got completely discouraged about running marathons and totally gave up on marathons in general, and about qualifying for Boston Marathon in particular.

Now that I am living under the sword of imminent death from a terminal cancer, the effort to qualify for Boston doesn't seem all that daunting. It might take me 4 years. Or 8 years. Or 20 years. Whatever. 

Pursuing the goal of qualifying for Boston Marathon would mean that I will have a strong desire for living for that many years in the future!

One of the 9 key factors that make a real difference in Kelly A Turner's book Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds is:
Having strong reasons for living.
Striving to become a faster runner and become fast enough to qualify for Boston means I will have a strong reason for living over the next few years. So I am gonna run, run, and keep running!

Addendum to this blogpost: The list of Marathons I am running in 2018

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