How I Found The Motivation To Take On The New York City Marathon

Image Credit: Nike, 2014

Michael Stromer in 500 Words On on Oct 21, 2015

On November 1st, I will run my first marathon in New York. Distance runners often describe hitting a wall during their runs. After months of training, I have found the wall is an illusion.

I started running last year, hitting my breakpoint once my knees were in pain. Pounding the pavement was too painful, so I learned to revise my run. Most runners strike their heel on every step; I started stepping on my toes instead. This small change proved essential on longer runs.

Although New York is a concrete jungle, runners push themselves to the finish line by repeating personal mantras. One of my favorite examples is, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” It goes to show that the difficulty of the marathon will be to persevere. What has been most helpful during training is running with a group.

In 2014, I ran over 529 miles thanks in part to Nike Running Club. At Nike Running stores, there are weekly runs scheduled. These are free runs for anyone that shows up. So I showed up, and ran with Nike pacers through the seasons. Nike sent me a video for New Years, congratulating me on the mileage and challenging me on a new goal… to run my first marathon. On New Years Eve, I ran Central Park as the ball dropped.

While I recommend everyone to run, there are many ways to get started. Check out for running shoe reviews. Make a running playlist, I like listening to videogame soundtracks. Plan the route: Central Park, Battery Park and the bridges are scenic. Most important: Wear light, comfortable clothing for a smooth run pace.

In an earlier article, I described running as a ritual. Running is about how you feel, rather than how you look. It deviates from vanity culture, measuring strength with daily improvement. The crux of running is defying limits, such as the “blerch.”

Let me explain. The “blerch” is our lazy inclination wrapped into a soft shell. It is a figment of imagination that nags us to be sedentary. I read about the blerch on the Oatmeal, an online comic series. Running is one method to beat the blerch. I found as the blerch subsided, a running inclination replaced it. Instead of nagging me for sedentary pleasure, I was itching to move.

As of now I am tapering off before the big day. I would like to thank all the friends, family and runners who helped support me through training. The marathon route has more live music than any race in the world. I hope to celebrate with you there. Learn more about the marathon here.

Originally published at on October 21, 2015.

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