This article, by Muddy, originally appeared in the May/June 2015 issue of our magazine.
Oh what a difference a little “P” makes. In fact, when we commit, fully and completely, to training for and racing in a marathon, the distinction between “preparation” and “reparation” becomes crystal clear.
Preparation with a capital “P” is what the marathon distance requires. It will not allow for weakness in the designing of training schedules, hammering of the workouts, monitoring of nutrition, nor will it allow for inadequate stretching, rolling, course researching, and perfect race dreaming. Preparation is the marathon. Respect the distance by preparing adequately for it.
In a bit of a paradoxical twist it is the all-consuming preparation for the marathon that ultimately forces us to drop the “P” and shift to reparation as soon as we cross the finish line.
Ambrose Bierce placed an interesting spin on the concept of reparation in his 1906 satirical piece, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. He wrote, “Reparation, n. Satisfaction that is made for a wrong and deducted from the satisfaction felt in committing it.” Fitting for sure. We’ve been taking physically from our bodies but also taking selfishly from those around us. We can certainly make amends to/with our bodies after our big race, but how do we recompense the people we’ve shortchanged before our race, during our marathon build-up? How do we ration that satisfaction from our “wrong” marathon experience? Where to begin with the list of atonement?
Should we begin with our families? We certainly owe them recourse. Tops on the list should be our significant others, who deal with us on the good (running) days and the bad all throughout our training. Essentially they have taken a back seat at times to our 26.2 mile mistress. Perhaps our poor children, having witnessed us asleep on the sofa countless times during training cycles, will realize that there’s actually nothing wrong with mommy or daddy, at least in a physical sense. How many times did we utter, “Not now, honey. Mommy/Daddy is tired?” Maybe you even went so far as to hire a babysitter so you could bang out a multi-hour workout? Luckily, children are forgiving and will gladly embrace our attempts at rebuilding parent-child bonds that may have been strained prior to the marathon. Nobody closer to us experiences nearly the entire marathon process as thoroughly and completely as our immediate family members. We owe them big time.
Our friends also need to be assuaged of any ill will they may hold. Our compadres have accepted us for who we are so they most assuredly understand why we repeatedly have declined social invitations or not returned phone calls. It is a sad day when running trumps friendships, some of which are lifelong, but that is what the marathon makes us do. Once the race is over it’s time to pay up, literally and figuratively, for our training-induced snubbings. They understand our passions. As such, hopefully they’ll be there waiting for us with open arms.
If arms aren’t wide open, some minor restitution may be needed, especially when dealing with work colleagues. Certainly we wronged them at some point during our build up. Our bosses, unfortunately, pay us to work, not run! Are we contractually obliged to apologize for using a sick day when our only affliction is a burning desire to nail a long mid-week workout? I don’t condone this type of scalawag behavior, but when it comes to running, it’s no longer a question of sickness or health; it’s a question of having found a sickness that makes us healthy. Perhaps as an olive branch toward our employer we could promise to never abuse our professions again. Until maybe next year that is, when the call of one last PR lures us back into the game. Sorrynotsorry, boss!
Let us not detract from our successful, epic marathon races. However, our jobs are not over by any means. All we’ve done is slide the “P” from in front of preparation and plopped it in front of a different “R” (in the form of “PR” ). Now though, ‘tis time to acknowledge that payback can be just as difficult and grueling as those series of Newton Hills in Boston. Post-marathon reparations are a grind and perhaps the most grueling of all. Better get started.
Muddy has been prepping and repping on the LVL for a few years now.
To read more from the May/June 2015 issue, click here.
To read from our current issue, click here.