Above: Marshall Dahneke qualified for the Boston Marathon by finishing the Utah Valley Marathon with a time of three hours and 26 minutes.
Marshall Dahneke is running the 2023 Boston Marathon to raise funds for massage therapy research and community service in honor of his daughter, Jacquelyn, who passed away from breast cancer in early 2022.
His column details his personal health journey, inspires massage therapists to live a healthier life, and promotes The Jacquelyn Project to raise funds for massage research and especially breast cancer community service projects. Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights, and a donation link.
I will run the Boston Marathon next April as a 58-year-old after qualifying on my own merits. How can I possibly accomplish this, especially after three decades of sedentary living and not focusing on my own wellness? Is it possible to make such an abrupt course correction and become an endurance athlete at my age?
Physical endurance is when someone consistently performs a certain activity for an extended period without exhaustion. Like running 26.2 miles in three or so hours! Building endurance involves increasing our strength and stamina to be able to repeat the same activities over longer and longer periods of time, without inducing injury.
Wait, does this sound familiar? What is massage therapy if not an endurance profession, standing for hours on end while using physical strength to apply just the right force in just the right places to treat clients?
If I don’t prepare and train properly for Boston, I won’t be able to maintain the needed speed over that distance while avoiding injury. Likewise, without adequate and ongoing attention to your wellness, strength and stamina, you too will be unable to go the distance in your career by avoiding injury and burn out. Both of us are on a mission to be endurance athletes in order to accomplish our goal of becoming our best selves and helping to make the world a better place.
Starting today and over the coming months, I will share my insights on what is working for me on my wellness journey that may help you as we strive to improve our endurance and quality of life.
I initiated my own course-correction in early 2019, weighing in at 230 pounds and focused on things other than my own well-being. I vividly remember running one of my first 5K races later that year with one of my sons—and watching with envy as he FaceTimed his girlfriend while I gasped for air.
Since 2019 I’ve dropped 85 pounds and declare with chest-pounding old-man pride, I can now outrun that same son in any race. Setting swagger aside, my journey is not done. I’m just celebrating fun milestones along the way as I pursue even greater endurance and greater longevity.
The following are the major wellness topics I’d like to unpack with you in the coming months that have enabled my transformation to date, any of which you can choose to embrace for your journey and, when in scope of practice, recommend to your clients:
- Ensuring at least seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night
- Feeding our body the nutrients it needs to perform as desired, again and again
- Making sure we exercise regularly to build and maintain both strength and cardio
- Taking advantage of tools that will leverage our performance
- Seeking out mentors, advisors and coaches to both guide and hold us accountable
- Fighting through and overcoming injuries (especially as we age)
- Giving ourselves the time and space to adequately recover
- Developing a resilient mindset to overcome inevitable obstacles
I know, this list can feel daunting—and for me, an overarching enabler is the idea of integration, or finding ways to incorporate lifestyle changes in ways that don’t add yet another to-do to my life but simply change, or even upgrade, something we are already doing. Small changes will compound over time into substantial results.
We don’t need more in our life, often we just need better!
I invite you, and will be so honored, if you join me on my journey of becoming an endurance athlete as I prepare for and run the Boston Marathon on behalf of the massage profession. I invite you to embrace any lifestyle changes I unpack that make sense for you and then model and share these as appropriate with your clients.
And, as I invite brands (many from outside the massage field) to sponsor this fundraising campaign, please embrace them and their support of our profession. Please give them the warmest massage welcome.
Let’s face it: We’re all just trying to become endurance athletes in the greatest sport of all—life.
[Visit The Jacquelyn Project’s home page for an overview of the project, sponsor highlights, and a donation link.]
About the Author
Marshall Dahneke is the grateful husband of Michelle and proud father of six wonderful children, a lover of massage, former CEO of Performance Health, 2016 Massage Hall of Fame inductee, and aspiring endurance athlete finding his way to a better way of life. Connect with him on Facebook.