Authors, We’re All Mountain Climbers and Marathoners

Whether you’re a newbie dreaming of success, a workaday writer dreaming of paying the bills, somewhere in between or somewhere beyond, you’re a mountain climber or marathoner even if no one has ever told you as much. Mountain climbers are the lucky few. They’re off to Nepal in preparation for the trek that will take them up Everest almost as soon as their big book is published. Weather permitting, they’ll fly over the Himalayas to meet their Sherpa guides. They’ll hike the trail to Namche Bazaar and catch a first glimpse of Everest as their big book lands on a bestseller list. Then they’ll set out on the trail along the Bhote Kosi and the Nangpa La and their big book will keep climbing up the bestsellers lists as they make their way to Everest Base Camp.

It’s a two-week journey from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp. After the ascent, the climbers must retrace their steps and hike down a steep trail. Then it’ll be a long, if leisurely, trek back to Lukla and Phakding. If the weather holds, they’ll be able to fly back to Kathmandu without delay, where they can explore the city until they depart the following day for home. A week will pass on the return journey. When they get home, they can rest well knowing they made the climb. But for continued success they’ll eventually need to prepare to climb Everest all over again.

Marathoners aren’t as fortunate as climbers. Their trip to the Boston Marathon begins on quiet country back roads, busy city streets, and quaint city parks. These would-be marathoners may practice sprinting, publishing many works in a short time. They may walk to build endurance, publishing a few works over a long time. Or they may jog at a steady pace, publishing works steadily as they go. Although the books of these sprinters, walkers and joggers may never land atop bestseller lists, these sprinters, walkers and joggers are all working toward the same goal. They all want to enter the marathon and cross the finish line in Boston, having walked, run or crawled for 26 miles and 385 yards to do it.

It’s a grueling 4 hours and 39 minutes on average to complete a marathon at a steady pace of about 10:34 per mile. For those who walk, it’s about 8 hours on average to complete a marathon. Whether you run or walk, crossing the finish line is exhilarating. But crossing the finish line isn’t the end of the ordeal. The second you cross the finish line you must resist the temptation to plop down on the ground. You must walk around. You must hydrate and eat. You must begin recovery. How you take care of yourself will determine how quickly you’ll recover. How quickly you can marathon again.

What no one tells the mountain climber is this: Your next attempt to climb Everest may not be a successful one. If so, there’s nothing wrong with attempting to climb Everest and failing. Lots of climbers have attempted Everest and failed. Perhaps you simply have to shake off the failure and prepare your ascent again. Or perhaps your next mountain isn’t Everest at all. Perhaps it’s Mount Fuji. Or perhaps you may find that success requires a marathon after all.

What no one tells the marathoner is this: You may not be able to complete the marathon. If so, perhaps you are a half marathoner instead of a marathoner or perhaps you were running in the wrong race after all. There’s nothing wrong with being a half marathoner instead of a marathoner. There’s nothing wrong with learning you’ve been running in the wrong race. At the end of all your marathons, you may even find that you were a mountain climber after all.


  1. Excellent post, Robert! I have recently come to terms with the realization that I'm a half-marathoner. At my age (62), I'm not trying to build a career and keep up with the young authors who are trying to make the bestseller lists. I just want to write what I love and what readers enjoy.

  2. Thank you, Chicki. Writing what you love is what it's all about!