Running to train for a marathon is like being a good person so you can get into heaven. The means is right but the end is all wrong. You glorify a bogus God.
For this plug in any sort of exercise, spiritual or physical. And for marathon, you can plug any of the pointless competitions, recitals, readings, exhibitions and other bullshit forms of external validation that we try to graft on to intrinsically valuable pursuits.
Getting up and going for a run everyday doesn’t need to be “justified” a few months later by competing to finish an arbitrary number of miles in a certain amount of time against a bunch of other unhappy losers. No, you run because keeping a healthy body and clear mind is part of your job as a human being. Because it’s a commitment you made to yourself that you’re obligated to keep no matter how tired, how busy or how burn out you feel. In other words, it’s practice—proof of your ability—in always having a little bit extra in you.
We slap these things on because we want to ruin them. We are afraid. We are afraid of making ourselves the project. So we trivialize it with some meaningless goal. This way it’s not our responsibility or our burden, only some activity we engage in. It’s an obligation with an expiration date. We’ll never have to question why we do it, why it’s the right thing to do, because there is a nice big easy answer: the race, the Bible, whatever.
And then we wonder why it never fills the void. Then we die and realize there is no heaven and that we missed the entire fucking point.