Legend says that that the first man to run a marathon famously died upon the finish (the real story appears to be vastly different, however). However, many people run marathons as a way to increase their physical fitness and enjoy a fun activity. Others run them to fulfill the dream of completing a challenge. I’ve completed three in my lifetime. I ran in the first USAF marathon when I was a flight surgeon. I’ve also finished the Pittsburgh marathon and the Miami marathon. Running marathons may offer many benefits to your health, but can also provide mental and psychological advantages. If you want to know what you can learn from running a marathon, there are a few facts to understand.

Know What You’re Capable Of
When running a marathon, it will prove to be both physically and mentally exhausting as you push yourself to new limits. You’ll have to learn how to keep yourself motivated and stay positive to avoid quitting early. By participating in a marathon, you’ll know what you’re truly capable of, which can be incredibly empowering and can cause you to set more goals in the future.

Allow Yourself to Experience Setbacks
Having a few setbacks while running a marathon can be extremely challenging and can cause some people to drop out. Understanding that setbacks are a part of the experience and that you can learn and grow from them will empower you to continue pushing forward. You’ll become more resilient and won’t become as discouraged.

The Joy of Self-Pride
You can only experience self-pride after you accomplish a difficult feat or goal that you didn’t know was possible. Once you cross the finish line after all of your hard work, you’ll have plenty of self-pride that allows you to love and value yourself. The pride that you experience will be worth the journey and can make it easier to accomplish more in the future.

Enjoy the Journey
Although it can be easy to focus too much on the finish line when running a race, you’ll begin to learn how to enjoy the journey and process instead of only focusing on the end result. Enjoying the journey can be incredibly fulfilling and will allow you to learn more about yourself along the way.

You Get What You Put In
One of the greatest lessons of running a marathon is understanding that you’ll reap the hard work that you invested into the activity. You’ll get what you put in, which can make it easier to realize that you’re the only one in control of your outcome at the race.