How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Every year, towns and cities around the world hold marathons around the streets, in which ordinary people rub shoulders with international runners and nutters in gorilla suits. Some friends recently joined the 30,000-odd dash in London and, interested in their motivation, I asked them why they did it.
For the real running enthusiasts it's about a bigger challenge, stepping up from local events and solitary training. It lets them benchmark themselves against the professionals as well as other enthusiasts.
For those who normally run shorter distances it is also very much a personal challenge, and proving to themselves that they can 'do it.'
For some, it is about raising money for charity. Borrowing the brand of the London Marathon gives them a lever that can winkle more out of their friends' pockets. This also makes them feel good, of course, which is a deep reason for doing it.
For most, however, it is flirting with fame. Where else can you trot alongside professionals, with waving crowds and TV cameras, feeling like you really matter, like for a moment you are important and part of something momentous? And back home and in the office the fame continues as people admire your grit and determination. 'I ran the marathon' gives serious boasting benefits for many years, which can make a few hours of pain seem worthwhile.
I used to run a bit, but looking at marathons, I am not tempted. You can have your fame. I'll find less tiring ways of feeling good. .
I ended up swimming in the BT Swimathon this year. I used to do it every
year, but I hadn't swum at all in many years until this Swimathon, when I
stepped in at the last minute to take my sister's place (she was ill). It was a
completely exhausting experience, and I'm sure I was far more stubborn with
myself than should be considered wise for somebody who has done so little
swimming of late. But it's easy to get enthused about something - even something
so strenuous - when there's a crowd of people watching, and others
participating, and in particular what kept me going was that I would have felt
that I was failing my sister if I'd dropped out. And afterwards, I'm glad of the
exercise... and a little of the fame, I suppose, too.