I do not know if it is an important question or not, but I have been asked a number of times who I am competing with? Do I really think I can win the marathon, especially when so many others have been running for so much longer than me? And if not, why am I bothering?
My answer to that is that a marathon (as if I know so much about them) is not a race between you and the other people running in it. It is a race between you and you. It is a battle of wills.
I am not even so sure the actual race is the real battle and competition. I think it might even be the training itself where the competition is either won or lost. But either way, I do not care how I place compared to the other guys running it, and I know I will not finish number 1 or even close to it.
The race is against myself. Can I push myself to do something that is against my nature, that takes a lot of work to accomplish, that is very difficult. It is a battle of wills, and if I can train, if I can run the marathon, I have won. No matter what place I come in.
I told that to somebody and he told me he has a different answer. He believes the competition is between you and the pavement. Will you keep "slapping" the pavement and conquer it, or will the pavement do you in and take you down - either in an injury (God forbid) or just in wearing you down until you give up. That is the competition.
I thought about it and there is a profundity in that as well, but I still like my answer better. I still think it is me against me.
Like last night when I did not want to run. It was a small battle, in the scheme of things, but I won it. I willed myself to do it. I am sure there will be plenty of such situations over the next few months of training, especially as it gets cold and wintry and the runs get uncomfortable like that.
A marathon, and life, is one big battle that is made up of a lot of little battles. If you can will yourself to win the little battles and stay in the long term race, you have won the big battle.
For example, I had another battle tonight as well. Not just the should I run or should I stay home and watch the exit polls of the Kadima primaries on the Internet. While I was running. I was doing a very serious uphill. A real killer of a hill. And I was tired and worn out and unmotivated. I thought to myself maybe I should stop for a bit. Maybe I should walk a bit. What's the difference? Nobody will see, nobody will know that I stopped to catch my breath. I will still run the 11km.
Then I thought to myself, who cares of nobody sees. If I stop just beause nobody sees, I am nto fooling anybody else. Nobody else cares. I am only fooling myself thinking I can run the 11km when I really could not.
Lots of little battles. The marathon is a race between me and me. The question is which me is going to win.