Digging Deeper: My London Marathon 2018 Reflections

They say when you run a marathon, you’re not running against other people and you’re not running against a time, rather, you’re running against the distance.

Training for and completing my second London Marathon has given me a lot of pause for thought. Running has been one of the most gruelling yet rewarding experiences of my life. I took it up initially as a personal challenge but remarkably, I’ve found the experience to be incredibly therapeutic. With all the hustle and bustle of work, home and everything in between, running has opened up for me a new head-space to reflect and process.

“Running has taught me to dig deeper into my body and squeeze out every morsel of energy I can muster, and I’ve also learnt to dig deeper into my consciousness. Like most people, I never thought I’d have it in me to run a marathon, but 26.2 miles and 6 hours or so later, my aching body is a sign of how we are all capable of remarkable things. I think to myself if I can go from someone who would only run from my living room to the dining room for dinner to someone completing multiple marathons, what else could I achieve? The impossible suddenly becomes possible.

The struggle, aches, sweat and sprains are all part of the process. When I first began training, breaking past the one-mile mark seemed insurmountable. But I learnt to fight through the pain. Learnt how to embrace it and be spurred on by it. Week on week I was able to speed past milestone after milestone and discover the sweetness really is in the struggle.

Our physical stamina, I’ve come to realise, is a reflection of our psychological stamina. If we can push our bodies to do more, we can push our minds even further. What’s possible socially, entrepreneurially, economically, politically – even spiritually – is limited

Yes, we will hit those mental roadblocks, but just like running through the pain, we will find the sweetness in the struggle. We can leverage the blood, sweat and tears to lay the foundations that transform the obstacles we face into stepping stones to future successes. Every entrepreneur knows this. We all face tough times and difficult decisions, we all make mistakes and fail, but they are aches and pains that come with running the distance. It’s not about other people and it’s not about racing against the clock, it’s about going the distance.

What’s amazing is each and each one of us is capable of this transformation. I’m so proud that this year we had 10 runners representing Penny Appeal at the London Marathon. Each of them have their own stories that have moved them to take part, wrestling with their demons and barriers to prove we all able to turn our minds and bodies around.

And of course, Penny Appeal’s Team Orange volunteers were out there on the tarmac. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the London Marathon is the ‘Spirit of London’ – the phenomenal atmosphere of hundreds of thousands of people, from all walks of life, coming together to applaud the tens of thousands of runners on the track. It’s the most exhilarating experience. The banners, the music, the singing, the screams of encouragement – in fact there isn’t a single stretch throughout the entire marathon where you won’t see members of the public cheering on the runners, congratulating the effort and commitment that each of us has made to reach get as far as we have. There simply isn’t anything like it on earth.

We called our London Marathon campaign “Dig Deep” – Digging deep into our minds and bodies to raise funds to dig deep into barren lands and install water wells for communities who consider access to clean water a rare luxury.

So, what are you waiting for? Dig into your pockets and donate to my fundraising page www.Justgiving.com/digdeepwithAdeem and if you think you can really dig deep, drop me a line and run the marathon with Penny Appeal next year. Then you’ll see exactly what it means to dig deep and experience London like you never have before.

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Adeem Younis

Adeem Younis

Founder of SingleMuslim.com and PennyAppeal.org