Athletics Magazine

When The Going Gets Tough

By Brisdon @shutuprun

I am well into my taper for marathon #6. Unlike other times when I have gone taper crazy and have eaten my way through the pantry and fretted over every little ache and pain, this time I’ve been pretty low key.

However, the thing that continues to intimidate me is the sheer marathon distance. Even though I have done this 5 times before, the 26.2 mile journey never seems to be any less daunting. That is my way of saying how much I respect the marathon and despite how freaking hard it is, I keep returning. What is the damn allure?

Sometimes the moments that challenge us the most, define us.”
—Deena Kastor, opening line from the movie Spirit of the Marathon

Here is what I know from past marathons:

  • At some point I will be very miserable
  • There will never be a moment when I think about quitting
  • I will come in and out of wondering why the hell I do these races
  • I will come close to shitting myself
  • At some point I will hate all of the music on my iPod
  • The highs will be extraordinary

Today, Coach Kastor really spoke to me when he sent this email. I love it for two reasons: 1) it applies to any goal we set for ourselves, not just running-related, 2) it doesn’t let us off the hook to do less than our best.

“On March 9th there will come a time when you have to choose how hard you’re going to push yourself.

Some athletes will choose to stop and rest, and others will continue to push through the discomfort, forging ahead to their marathon goals. 

How strong will you be when the going gets tough?  Will you be able to look yourself in the mirror on Sunday afternoon and honestly answer the question, “Did I give it my all?” or “Did I rise to the occasion?” 

Will you be proud of yourself and your accomplishment?  You should be. You should already be proud of yourself for sticking with the training program, getting up early to get your long runs in on the weekends, running in all kinds of weather conditions, because getting this far is a challenge in and of itself…

The marathon is merely the reward.”

One thing I will say about myself in any race I have ever done, including the Ironman, is that regardless of whether or not my time goals were achieved, I never have had any regrets. I have always done to the best of my abilities.

I tell my kids all the time that only they know if they are doing the best, I can’t know that for them. That is how I feel about my races. Only I can possibly know if I gave it my all.

What do I do when the going gets tough? The only thing I can do. Keep moving forward and know the struggle is a temporary one. That is all.

Now get me the hell out of 10 degrees and snow and into the sweet LA climate. And, I better meet some celebrities. Only just over a week to go ‘til I’m CA bound.


How many marathons have you run? Do you forget about the pain and sign up for another one right away? I do not forget about the pain. Yet, I am strangely drawn to the pain.

Do you have regrets about a particular race? I regret my second half marathon when I ran on a stress fracture. I knew I was injured going into it, and should have not even showed up.

Tell me one celebrity you’ve met. Greg Kinnear, Linda Ronstadt (I’m old), Aaron Neville (that’s 3, I know you are impressed).


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