Joel Juht, preparing for the desert marathon, continues to train hard, but before heading for Tenerife he also shares the feelings that have struck him while training:

“Preparations go better on some days, worse on others, emotions vary. Pain occurs in the hands, feet, and the stomach and all over, and my facial expression changes with these emotions frequently. Everyone is now asking me why I’m doing this, and now I’ll explain. I actually hate running, I think running is the most disproportionate activity. You run and run and can do nothing else but run. It wastes a lot of time during which you can do nothing else. Why did I undertake this run? Everyone thinks it’s cool, and I’m also doing charity, but it’s also a test of character, taking on a task I greatly dislike! Why should I do unpleasant things to surpass myself? I used to undertake things I disliked before, just to see if I’d learn to like them. In 15 years, I’ve understood that a person will come to love even that which they dislike. Many claim the opposite, but I suppose people give up under certain circumstances and run away from the process.


Now I’ve taken this marathon decision, and in two months I’ve gotten to the point where I could already run a bit. The moment I had at the start and what I have now, they’re two different things. I’ve done enough training to prefer running long distances over short ones, as the latter doesn’t stimulate me. However, if I were to run the same lap over and over, it would kill my nature and creativity. I try not to walk the path I’ve walked before, but to walk another path, to create a new image, new people, or sense something differently. I do not love running, this is a fact, but I am proving that it is possible to overcome dislike and to learn to like something. Through this unpleasant process, I am surpassing myself and have done so greatly already, I’ve gotten my body into shape thanks to preparations.

My runs were shorter before, so I could manage to do them every day, but are now longer. I actually don’t even run, I just proceed, to learn to run economically, so my body doesn’t lose too much water. I’m also learning to run without my legs losing rhythm, to keep steps short yet frequent, because then I can manage the designated runs with these legs. When I started, I had an infection in both legs, now it’s gone from one. I’ve improved my running and can now run a kilometer on a flat surface a minute faster than before. I feel good after a run, previously my brain would protest. I’ve done all my running outdoors, only one was in an indoor hall, since I wanted to try running with a backpack in room temperature and how my body would react. It’s not good to run indoors, when your gaze is on the ground or above, I should’ve at least brought my iPad. Another interesting part of development is that when I used to walk on inclines, I now powerwalk, which is more useful — it of course depends on the angle of the slope.

I’ve developed a pleasant rhythm in my running, but I also need to check my wristwatch from time to time. An important part of running is observing and noting down everything, such as your diet. I need to go to the lab in February and they need to know what I’ve been doing and eating. At the moment I’m going through loads of decisions: I need to find food fit for the marathon, footwear, covers for sandstorms, a hat that’ll stay on my head through it, fitting underwear and things to carry in my pack — every gram matters. All of this needs to be decided by January. It might seem simple, but I still need to re-learn many things, such as using a compass which I haven’t done in a long time. Now I want to go to Tenerife alone, a new environment where I can feel the joy of discovery and adjust to the climate.”

*Authors: GoodNews journalists Elviira Eessaar and Jüri Kukk