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October 14, 2015

Life Lessons Learned in 21.1 Kilometers.

CL Society 379: Preparing to run, Francisco Osorio, Flickr

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This wasn’t my first, or second—it was my third half marathon in less than two years.

I am not a runner, by any shape or form.

My stocky, (sometimes) muscular build and curvy dancer legs make running an effort.

But I set a goal to run and I did just that. For over 60 kilometers.

Well, okay, maybe not all at once. I signed up for my first half because I was going through a separation and wanted to do something for me. I was going to the gym—working towards a killer bod. I had great cardio and thought it would be a splendid item to knock off the bucket list that summer.

I had an ideal finish time in mind—a number I held so dear to my heart, and totally thought I could crush. But as weeks drew near and the days were coming at me fast, areas surrounding my home town were on fire and our community could barely walk outside never mind train for a half marathon.

I was still in the best shape of my life, but terrified to let myself down. So what did I do? What most rational people would do, of course: I signed up for another half marathon, six days before my original entry, to see if I could actually get close to my time. And, to top it off, I invited my now was-band (husband-that-was), then husband to run with me.

Well, I may not have been able to walk the two days following, but I am happy to report that we beat my time, and I was excited to run the next race.

Six days later, we faced another 21 kilometers together. Me and him. Him and me. Side by side.

Looking back, I am not really sure how it happened. I think that he took an interest in everything I did to try to salvage our dead and decaying relationship. And, to be honest, at this point, I admire and appreciate that.

It took only one day, three yoga classes and a tube of arnica to recover completely. But I have become very acquainted with the healing process, and enjoyed every second of the fading pain.

One year later and my on-again, off-again marriage was both exhausting and exhilarating, and changes at my job and family life kept me from training, but I had already signed up for another half marathon.

It was extremely difficult for me to let go of the outcome. I wanted to beat the socks off the time I had set before with him by my side. But I really had no clue what I was capable of—especially with no training or time—or more importantly, by my self.

Here’s the list of what I learned along the way:

1. I can do anything on my own.

We learn to doubt ourselves, but we really can do anything on our own. We were born for it. We were built for it. I felt freedom as the wind and slight rain grazed my body. I felt happiness as I passed every kilometer mark with only me to congratulate. It was simple and rewarding. All for me. No one to depend on, or be disappointed by. No one to pull me along or hold me back. I can do anything on my own.

2. I have support all around me.

I didn’t really have a training regime or a nutritional plan. I just went with it. I knew I was strong and that one way or another I would cross the finish line.

But the night before the race, I met with a dear friend and her kind words of encouragement and wisdom made a huge impact on my run. I listened to her advice, threw out others’ expectations and restrictions and did what I knew was best for me. I traveled to the race alone, stayed all alone, and didn’t expect any support from anyone. But, all along, the support was there. It always is. Always. Accepting it or ignoring it is a choice. Please accept it.

3. Stop looking so far into the future and just take one loving step at a time.

The more I looked to the finish line, the heavier I felt. The harder it was to pick my feet up. My chest pounded and I wanted so badly to stop running. The second I stopped looking so far ahead of me and just focused on the very next step, it became so much easier. I felt light and each step propelled me nearer to my goal. One little itty-bitty step at a time. Just one—that’s forward motion.

4. It is much more satisfying to document what you have accomplished, rather than what you have left to do.

Do you do this too? Do you write your to-do list every day? You you see what you don’t get done as a failure—something to move to the next day or worse, the weekend?

As I watched the kilometer marks (slowly)  pass by me, I realized it was much more satisfying to celebrate what I had already accomplished, rather than hide from what I still had left to slay. This has been very rewarding in my every day life. Try it. You will feel much better about your day, and especially your tomorrow.

5. It is so much easier to smile, when you aren’t dragging someone along.

As a perpetual people-pleaser and problem-solver, I have always been a cheerleader. I always put myself in the role of inspiring others—motivating them to be the best versions of themselves.

Somewhere along the road, I forgot to cheer for myself. During the race, I realized it was so much easier to run freely, celebrate each moment, applaud each small accomplishment and have fun all along the way.

My happiness depends only on me, and the purest expression of me shines most brightly when I am focused on me—not another human, dependent or otherwise.

6. Easier times are just around the corner or at the top of the hill.

No matter what you are going through, it is just a phase. Impermanence is reality. Everyone is facing his or her own battles, and they will all pass or fade. Enough said.

7. It gets harder as you get closer to it, but it feels so good to cross the finish line.

Whether it is a small assignment or a major project, getting closer to your goals takes work and can be a daunting, but trust me, it is worth it. Keep going, do jumping jacks, talk to yourself, splash water on your face, take a time-out. Do whatever you need to do to accomplish your goals, to cross the finish line. Do your absolute best and surrender to the outcome. It is so worth it.

8. Everything that “little voice inside your head” tells you is true!

So make it count. You have control over that little voice. You are the captain of your own ship, the director of your own Broadway show, the creator of your destiny. You make not be able to change the outcome of the race, but you can definitely control your thoughts, your reactions and enjoy every single step of the journey.

9. You will never feel lonely if you like the person you are alone with.

It took 36 years to realize that I am my own best friend. That I need no one else, and that I am more than enough. That everything I need, I contain inside of myself. Wrapped perfectly in this little package—I have it all. I love being alone, I love the person I get to spend all my time with.

That, my friend, is how to truly win the race.

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Relephant read:

5 Steps to Establishing a Mindful & Joyful Running Practice.

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Author: Lina Lewis

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Francisco Osorio/ Flickr

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