Rekindling the Fire

I’ve been running for 50 years.  It staggers the imagination. Even mine!

That’s an awful lot of miles, and since I do my best thinking on the run, that’s a lot of contemplation. I’ve put many of those thoughts and ideas into three books, hundreds of speeches, more business proposals than I want to remember, and a bursting idea box.

Now it’s time for a blog.  I know, I know, Luddite techno-phobic me has finally realized that plenty of ideas don’t make it into books, most books don’t get published, and when they do it takes at least a year.  And nobody is going to see an idea that is jammed into an idea box.  Plus, you all have been needling me to create some kind of interactive forum, so here goes.

Here’s my first topic—Rekindling the Fire.   (Also known as what keeps you motivated, sustaining the interest, and what gets you out running every day for those of you who inevitably ask that question!)

On March 13, I’m planning to run my first marathon in 34 years.  I’m 63, and to tell you the truth, I’m more than a little nervous.  But I think the reason that I’m compelled to throw myself back into this madness has resonance for all of us.

My last marathon distance race—where I actually pinned on a number and committed myself publicly to 26.2 miles (42.2 K) —was 1976, 34 years ago.  Sure, in those 34 years I ran regularly, raced and competed, but all at shorter distances.

Plus, after running 35 marathons, the desire to actually do the distance again wasn’t as fascinating to me as broadcasting it for TV, or writing about it in another book. My work, which involves huge amounts of international travel, also made getting consistent long runs very difficult.

Then, two years ago, my friend Thom Gilligan from Marathon Tours and I were working to revitalize the Bermuda International Race weekend and Thom came up with this crazy idea of the Bermuda Triangle Challenge—three races in three days.  When he asked me to run it I told him he was out of his mind; it was crazy when I was running 100 miles a week and it is even nuttier now that I’m age 60 and jogging 25.  He badgered; I whined. Then I began training because I was curious. Could I do this?

I was also meeting plenty of women who were my age and older who were running in amazing events, and although I admired and lauded them, I began to feel a little… what?  Not quite competitive, but kind of irritated with myself for feeling left out.

I did indeed do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, and even won my age group and $100 cash in the 10k!  I was on such an endorphin high after winning the first ever prize money in my life and getting through the half marathon the next day that I was totally hooked again.

Then the clincher:  A year later, we launched my book Marathon Woman in the South Island of New Zealand at a race called the Motatapu Icebreaker.   This event is held on environmentally protected land that is open to the public only one day a year for an off-road marathon and 50K bike race.  The proceeds raise money to protect the land; it is jaw-dropping beautiful, remote and pristine.  I recall telling myself  ‘If you don’t run this, you won’t see it, and it would be a shame to miss something so special.’

Thus, I’ve been pouring on the miles, the time-consuming miles, almost all on rough trails and wearing a hot and hated backpack.  You can follow my training in the link above (Follow Kathrine’s training), but just to advise you in brief:  it’s been an astonishing experience.  It’s a whole new body! But it’s the same old mind. So it’s also wondrous.   When I get ready for a hard workout, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for the dread or the discovery. When I finish a hard workout, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for the result or the knowledge.

The point is this: I’m motivated because I have a goal, and my fire is rekindled because it is challenging.  I figure it this way:  difficult is only temporary and fascinating is forever.

Be challenged!


  1. Diana Weiland on March 10, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Good luck running your marathon. I can’t wait to hear you speak in Champaign Il.

    • kathrineswitzer on March 22, 2010 at 12:55 am

      I look forward to you, too, Diana! As they say in their ad, C U there! best, Kathrine

  2. Jen Street! on March 12, 2010 at 2:08 am

    You go Marathon-Woman! I can’t wait to hear about it. I’m so proud of you… thanks for continuing to inspire me. Have a great run!

  3. John Pitarresi on March 12, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Hey, Kathrine. Best of luck Saturday. You’re going to feel like King Kong, or maybe Queen Kong … but it will take a few hours!
    You’ll do a great job.

  4. Steve on March 12, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Soooo exciting! Go Kathrine!

  5. Ilse Dippmann on March 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Kathrine, good luck for tomorrow. Running this race – it´s great. All the best to you.

    We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you and wish you …
    good luck from Vienna, Austria!

    Ilse, Andy and 10000s of Austrian women´s

  6. becky on October 24, 2011 at 2:47 am

    Just came across your blog. So inspiring. Thank you for all you have done. Hoping to run my first marathon this year … blind so need a guide who is also passionate about this goal :).