Health,  Mindset

It’s Not Just a Run

I did it. I completed the half marathon I set out to do. I had a single goal to cross the finish line, no strings attached. No pace to chase, no ulterior motive, no segway to bigger and better things.

Right when I stripped down my goal to the bare basics, the opposite happens. I ran a negative split, pushed my pace faster than I anticipated, and felt my best at the finish line with several miles still left in the tank. Race day was nothing short of amazing, exceeding all my expectations. 

And you bet your ass bigger and better things lie ahead! Finishing a race like this is not a one and done- it never has been and it never will be for me. It’s only the beginning, the fuel that lights the fire. The runner’s high that surges through our body is undeniable, but it’s far more than just an adrenaline rush in that single moment. It’s a chance to feel the pride, strength, and sense of complete freedom into every day we live. It’s an opportunity that shows us exactly what we are made of, what we are capable of accomplishing. The medal that hangs around our neck is symbolic of the work we put in over weeks and weeks of training; of the celebration on race day that we deserve; and of all the feels we can carry with us into many months ahead.

I reflect back to early winter when I decided I wanted to run another half marathon- actually, it started with thoughts of what would be my first full marathon, but one thing at a time here.;) I was in it for the mental game, the ‘me time’ on those early morning runs before the rest of my family woke up, and the clarity to remember my why. (Read it all here)

All things that I knew would come easily as I gained momentum through 12 weeks of training. 

But, of course, there were also hardships along the road. The 4am alarms that were painfully welcomed some days. The speed intervals ran on the treadmill, opening snacks and dressing Barbies while I gasped for air inbetween sprints. Having to say “no” as I prioritized my fitness and nutrition over other indulgences. The fact that training for a race was in addition to everything else- nothing in my daily in’s and out’s stopped just because I had to go out for a run. 

While these decisions were more extreme during my training for 13.1, they are habits –a lifestyle- I confidently created that will stick well beyond the finish line.(Turns out I did learn a thing or two from my Mind Health Certification.) 

It’s of importance to also note: this is not something I’ve worked to balance out in out my life, but instead I find an alignment that blends the best of all my worlds. This is a huge shift (anyone) can make, and a much happier one, if I do say so myself. 

And so the lessons along my runs continued. Always so many life lessons learned and perhaps my favorite part of training. The way my mind wonders on my runs, my inner and outer strength literally growing with each step. I learn how to be successful in my running performance, but I remember the same wisdom outside of my runs, in everything that I do. Call it cliche if you want, but if you experience it for yourself firsthand, you may start to think- and act- differently too.

Let me enlighten you…

Eyes ahead, chin up. A constant reminder on repeat when things feel tough, especially when we are fighting the uphill battle. And what a difference it makes- the slightest tilt lends to the biggest vision. 

Stay in the mile you are in. Not thinking of the one behind you nor worrying about the one ahead. There’s a lot to be said about staying laser focused in the exact moment, sitting in all the comfort and the discomfort. The strength you can endure by being present, in the present, is truly phenomonal.

Look good, feel good. Spend the money on the expensive athletic gear that makes your flat self look like its straight out of a magazine. Because once it’s on your body, I promise it feels even that much better (I am team Brooks’ Ghosts for life- new big training block, new running shoes!). Know where to skimp, know where to spend. The environment you set up for yourself makes a big impact on your success- let it all be in your favor, not against.

Take the open road. I ran in circles- a lot. It kept me close to home, felt the safest, and made for a familiar route. But my best runs were the ones that took me places, unknown territory with no direct end in sight. I’d be nervous to go out so far, but those nerves quickly turned to feelings of empowerment with the open road under my feet. What we don’t see is that something so simple can be so unconsciously limiting to us, until we break the cycle. You have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable. So whatever you do, just don’t turn back around.

Find your pace. I didn’t run to catch anybody else, and most importantly, I didn’t chase an old version of myself. I found what worked best for me now, and go figure, that’s exactly what made me even better. Your own pace, your own peace, your own success. 

Nothing is just. It’s not just a few miles, just a training run, just a hill, just a half marathon. Every mile counts. Every effort and decision you make matters. Everything in life- big or small, minuscule or monumental, has an influence. So for the love of God, stop putting ‘just’ in every sentence you say. Change your words and watch it change your mentality. 

(Ps- guilty as charged here and eliminating ‘just’ out of my vocabulary in this type of context is a constant work in progress. Pro-tip: start with your emails/texts. Delete the word ‘just’ when describing anything and see what happens…)

Always go to the bathroom first. Runners, you know what I’m talking about. Further more, Mom’s, it’s the same reminder we give our kids anytime we leave the house and constantly asking while we are out and about. Maybe this is more of a common sense lesson, perhaps the odd duck here, but it’s still one that very much applies to running and to life. And one you never want to be sorry about, over not taking the extra minute to take care of business. So take it or leave it, but don’t say I didn’t tell you to go. 

This list could easily keep going with many more thoughts, but I think you get the point. In my case, running is what opens so many doors for me. It is what fuels me to embrace each and every lesson from those miles ran, and incorporate them into every step of my day there after. 

Sure, you can run too. Heck, I’d love to run with you! But, of course, know you don’t have to. 

Do find your thing. Your journey that makes you feel alive. Where you can fall in love with the process, not just the result. 

Whatever it is you choose to do, it has to be full of passion. Purpose. Something that pushes your body, challenges your mind, and energizes your soul. 

A love that you believe in. A belief in yourself.

So that you can hold onto the same last lesson as I did when I crossed that finish line.

It’s not that I can. 

I AM. 

Until Next Time❤️