Two years ago I trained for a 5k with friends. I stopped running for a while when we moved to Italy, then I started again (sort of), then… I decided to cope with losing a travel buddy to cancer by signing up for a half marathon.
You don’t know how many times I imagined her telling me it’s crazy to spend all that time running when there’s all this prosecco and sunshine. But I would thank my lungs and legs for their strength, and G-d for letting me be on the trail that day, and the mountains on the horizon for being so majestic, and I would run.
I ran 3 to 5 days a week in July, August and September, racking up a couple hundred miles. In the summer I would get up at 5:30 to beat the heat and return home before my husband had to leave for work. I ran 14 miles one rainy Sunday in Germany; I ran Fartleks in the Alps. My husband bought me a training journal and hung with the kids while I took entire Sunday mornings to run. I worked really hard to teach my body how to run a half marathon…and I DID IT.
Quite frankly, finishing it didn’t feel as good as having my free time back. While I ran the 13.1 miles in just the time I was aiming for, the experience of running a race solo in the cold fog was far from fulfilling. For a few days I struggled with what it all meant to me. On one hand, I could check it off my bucket list and say I’m a person who ran a half marathon. On the other, I gained the remarkable gift of witnessing my ability to do something I had never done before – all on my own. THAT was everything.
Since then, I’ve started stand-up paddling. I’ve reattacked Italian lessons. I’ve invited people into my home. I’ve started skiing. I’ve committed to a regular yoga practice. I’ve renewed my commitment to goals. I completed my Goodreads reading challenge and read 25 books in 2016. I finally completed a photo book after talking about it for six years.
I’ve finally started doing the things I’ve imagined I want to do.
It changed me. The physical and mental strength I gained by forcing myself to endure the pain and sacrifice of training was worth it, because now the smaller goals and challenges don’t seem quite so big.
Have you trained yourself to face a big challenge? I’d love to hear your story!