The Power of the Marathon

How this distance can change your life

Anne the Vegan
6 min readSep 20, 2022


Wearing my medal after finishing the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016

Ultramarathons aside, in the world of running, the ultimate test of mental strength and physical fitness is the marathon. Why is running the marathon such a powerful testament to a person’s will and mental toughness? One reason: the pain. We’ll revisit this point in a bit.

Pursuing the Dream

In my wildest dreams, 26.2 miles is a distance I never fathomed I could complete, especially as a new runner. I was the girl who got out of running the mile in gym class. I signed up for my first marathon training team with every intention of dropping to the half. But as I checked off each new distance PR, I started to envision crossing that finish line. I’m fairly certain my mother thought I would die running my first one. Now, I’ve run 9 of them.

Translating Lessons to Caregiving

On the first day training for my second marathon, our head coach Blair Just of the Pink Nation, one of the marathon training teams with Sports Backers in Richmond, VA, reminded us: only 1% of the world has ever run a marathon. Marathoners are exceptional. Blair would remind us each week also to breathe, relax, and believe that we could do this. I am a physical therapist, and this last mantra I share with my patients often, especially before tackling a new, anxiety inducing skill in therapy. It always helps.

Many years ago, I worked with a patient in rehab who had suffered a stroke. She was a relatively young woman to have gone through this, and she was really struggling mentally. She was also a marathoner. I got to use that 1% line with her, reminding her of how tough she was. If she can get through a marathon, she can do the work to recover from her stroke. She didn’t realize how small of a percentage of the population had actually tackled that distance! Even if I wasn’t working with her that day, I’d catch her eye, and say, “ONE PERCENT” to her. She started to believe she could heal. She left the rehab hospital walking independently.

Doing the Work

You can’t just decide one day that you’re going to run a marathon. This race takes planning, training, and discipline. My fall marathon training schedule begins 6 months before my race, and that’s assuming that I’ve kept up with…



Anne the Vegan

I write about the human experience relating to running, healthcare, social justice, and veganism. Owner: The Plant Power Pub, Top writer: Food, Cooking


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