Runners love running, not because they conquered the race…but because they conquered themselves

Running…hated it.  I ran only because I love food and as you get older, french fries do not love you back. When I forced myself to start running, I would go half of a mile and walk, then go another half mile before calling it good. (Although it was a first step, we all have to start on the first step). I would sign up for 5K’s and walk half of it as grandmas would pass me by.

My husband became my running accountability partner and we started pushing ourselves further once we committed to a 200 mile relay race in the Ozark Mountains.  We gave ourselves a goal that we could not back out of because we were now part of a team of 12.😳 Training for this race was actually laughable at first because although we appeared to be runners, we never ran more than 1 or 2 miles at a time.

Hang in there with me runner-haters, this will apply to you…

Training is always the hardest part of any race. In the beginning, there are far more uncomfortable runs than enjoyable ones.  Yes, they do get enjoyable.  Moments when you wake up early and force yourself out of your warm bed even when you want to stay in it. And then there are those moments when you stay in your warm bed and try again later.

Once you get to the end of your comfortable distance, the place where you usually stop– you start to feel like you can’t breathe. Since we had a new goal, we had to keep going towards a new distance.  And those runner’s cramps. They come out of nowhere sometimes and they are sharp.  Pushing yourself to run through those is part of the conditioning but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears of frustration when the side cramps wouldn’t let up. Each time I would push myself passed an uncomfortable part of my run, that discomfort would eventually go away.

I would break my runs up in my mind to make it more mentally tolerable. I made my mind focus on the short-term goal so it wouldn’t get defeated with the long-term. You start to come up with ways to overcome the mental challenge that distance running truly is.  After you have those runs a few times you start to notice that those cramps don’t show up anymore and you can run a longer distance before you feel like you can’t breathe. I started to realize that my body was capable of more than I realized, it was my mind that was limiting me. After some time, runs started to get enjoyable.  Running became my quiet time, my self-discovery. I started to get proud of the distances that I could take myself to.  I love to look back to where I started because it reminds me to appreciate how far I’ve come.

What if we understood that running a race is very much like becoming ourselves?  Replace “side cramps” with setbacks and “not being able to breathe” with anxiety. Pushing past what’s uncomfortable allows you to see what you are capable of, if you don’t let your mind limit who you become. The process of overcoming anything is much like a race. There’s moments that you want to quit, that you don’t think you’ll make it, that your mind says you can’t, but you just keep moving forward.  Push yourself beyond the pain and doubt, focus on one mile at a time and you have won.  You get to the point where running the distance that use to be painful, no longer hurts anymore. It’s then you realize the truth in how strong you really are. The experience is in the training–it’s in the runs not the finish line.< strong>Runners love running not because they conquered the race, but because they conquered themselves.Although the finish line is the goal we need… it’s the experiences during your runs that gives meaning to the finishing medal.

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