Marathon Man

Photo from AP, Manu Fernandez

This morning on NPR I heard a pretty incredible story about a man who ran 365 marathons… in 365 days.

He’s a 49 year old Belgium man and apparently he also has asthma.

While listening to the story I thought a few things:

1. I can’t even finish a half marathon – let alone a full one.

2. I can’t even bring myself to work out 5 days a week, let alone every day for a year.


Then I started thinking about the challenges we give ourselves. Me? A year without eating out. Others? A year without spending. Still others? Living with a grocery budget of $800 for an entire family for a year.

And I’m pretty sure that when other people look at us from the outside they think a lot about #3 on my list: WTF IS WRONG WITH US?!

But yanno what, maybe not everyone will understand why we do the things we do, maybe they’ll look at us and scratch their heads and shrug their shoulders. Maybe they’ll even try to tell us to our faces how dumb we are. (Can you imagine what this guys wife must have thought? “Holy hell hunny, you’re going to break something!”)

Greatness is something that the rest of the world will probably try to talk you out of.

If you’re great it makes the rest of us look bad for not being as great.

The interviewer on NPR kept saying about how this Marathon Man was making the rest of us seem lazy. I didn’t think he was doing that at all. He didn’t make me feel lazy – he made me feel hopeful that even the seemingly impossible can be done with dedication and preparation.

There may be controversy about whether what he did was healthy, or advisable, or pushing the limits of the human body. But he proved it could be done.

In some ways I see clearing debt very similarly. It is hard. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Especially if you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It is a long distance endurance test. You have to run/save every day to get there. But eventually your hard work pays off.

Those around you may not understand why you can’t go shopping like you used to. Why you can’t go to the movies every Friday night anymore. Why you’re always asking them over to make tea for them rather than going to Starbucks for a coffee date. But at the end of our marathon, when we get to the end – it IS worth it.

We’ll have accomplished something that so many people never will: We  completed a financial marathon.

12 thoughts on “Marathon Man

  1. This is a really inspiring story…and interpretation of that story. Getting out of debt, whether “legitimate” or not (I refuse to say “good debt”), is a marathon and not a spring. We all have different preparations and paces, but hopefully we can all finish. Great post! 🙂

  2. As far as mister marathon, I’ve heard that doing that much running is bad for your heart. It’s too much over exertion and is very harmful! (saw this on an episode of “My Strange Addiction” on TLC)

    But as far as challenges for ourselves, it does take time. We all didn’t start our savings and debt repayment habits in one day. We had to learn what methods worked best for us, and make modifications if need be. Sometimes there are speedbumps, but as long as we keep focused on the finish line, we will get there!

  3. You know what I find odd? That people fund us odd. Here’s what’s odd to me: nearly a billion dollars in outstanding credit card debt in the US alone, US corporate debt that’s about 7 times greater than profits, US national debt of over 14 TRILLION dollars. Those things are odd to me. Refusing to waste money going to the movies so you can pay five dollars for fifteen cents worth of popcorn is not odd to me.

  4. lol. just noticed that I said “nearly a billion dollars in outstanding credit card debt” when the actual number is nearly a trillion. Had a senior moment there I guess. 😉

  5. What an awesome post! I like the financial marathon tie in, but the person you mentioned who sets an $800 per year grocery budget for an entire family is really inspiring to me — amazing!

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