Can Anyone Run a Marathon?

September 17, 2010, 12:46 pm Interview by Gill Dear Yahoo!7

Marathons. What drives someone to run 42kms? Why put yourself through the pain? And how do you push through it? Annie Crawford is a marathon runner and Director of Can Too, a non-profit program matching fitness with charity. I caught up with her to find out how she does it - and why.

Mindset of a Marathon Runner

The pain and glory of running a marathon

Some people say they ‘just can’t run’. Can anyone run a marathon or do you have to be a super athlete?

I believe that 95% of the people in this world can run a marathon. You do not have to be a super athlete to run one. There are a few people that are biomechanically not cut out to run a marathon and will continually be plagued by injury despite all the will power in the world. However the rest of us can run a marathon because it is a mind game and the journey to a marathon is just the same as the journey to a 9k or a half marathon. It is the same process whatever the distance. For example we have people who turn up to Can Too on the first night of training who can barely walk 400 metres of the track. Never in their wildest dreams do they truly believe they can run 9kms. We believe in them until they believe in themselves.

Baby steps
They start out slowly and see what they can do. They don’t believe they can run/walk the 3kms we ask them to do on the first night of training, yet they do it. Then on the first Saturday run they don’t believe they can run/walk 5kms or for 30 minutes. Yet they do. Every week they say to themselves "I couldn’t jog another step. How will I finish next week when I have to increase my distance by 10%?". Yet they do it. This is because it is all mental. It is a process, it is a journey with bite sized chunks. It doesn’t matter if these chunks are designed to enable you to run 9kms or 42kms – the process and plan is still the same. The same mental strategy is used for all distance runners, the same buzz is created, whether you have run 6kms for the first time in your life or 46k. The distance is immaterial if you are moving beyond something you have never achieved before. We have so many people in Can Too who never in their wildest dreams believed they could achieve what they end up achieving. We have people that have never exercised before, who are 20 or 30kgs overweight, who take on the challenge and lose the weight and achieve their dream - whether it be to run 9kms, a half marathon or 42kms. You don’t have to be a super athlete you just have to believe in yourself. Can Too has the belief in you until you are ready to own your own belief. Once you have that belief anything is possible.

Training for such a long race must take up a fair bit of time. How much training do you do, and how do you juggle this with your extremely busy professional life?

You are right. I am extremely busy and with the growth of Can Too in Brisbane and Melbourne alongside its success in Sydney I am even busier. It means that I have to travel interstate quite a bit.

However training is just a priority in my life because I know it is vital to my mental health. I train six days a week and I love it. All you need to do is to make training a priority in your day and it will happen. You just need to get up early before the work day begins and do your work out, come what may. You cam never make excuses, because there is always a reason you can create not to train.

Stick to a schedule
The benefits outweigh the cost. Monday and Thursday I get up at 5:15am and run with two friends for about 10 or 11kms. On Tuesday I do 45 minutes on the bike as well as weights at the gym. Wednesday I do more weights in the morning and then Can Too training in the evening. Friday is a rest day. Rest days are as important as training days. Saturday is Can Too training and Sunday I do a light recovery run. It saves my sanity. You never regret training but you always regret not training.

GOODLUCK to Annie and all the ‘Can-Tooer’s who are running in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival! To sign up for a Can Too Running or Swimming program, and to help find a cure for Cancer, visit

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  1. sej12:53am Sunday 03rd October 2010 ESTReport Abuse

    You are obviously not a single parent with younger children. It's not logical or feasible to get up at 5:15am to go for a run and leave children at home alone. Some real-people advice would be good.

  2. Christopher09:47am Saturday 02nd October 2010 ESTReport Abuse

    Problem is ... I injured both my knees in cycling accidents and have been advised not to run - ever. So what alternative exercise can I undertake?

  3. 04:38pm Tuesday 21st September 2010 ESTReport Abuse

    My doctor recently told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I've only been jogging once and feel ten years older already =(^_^)=

  4. Baz03:55pm Monday 20th September 2010 ESTReport Abuse

    This is very helpful. I have been exercising on Studio bikes or out on the road for many years. I thought running distances would be easy... wrong. I ran 10kms on the first try and was a cripple for the week. The cardio levels were fine .. but the legs were killing. Not used to running on concrete I suppose. Blamed my runners, and walked out of a well known footwear store with a new pair of expensive Brookes - Beasts. A week later and recovered I ran 2 km and my achilles was so sore I had to hobble home. Week later same thing happened. Welcome any advice here. I stare at the shoes and fell to reluctant to risk the grief again. I am in the low 50's age bracket.





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