I Learned from Running
As I sit here waiting for the next few hours to pass before the marathon tomorrow, I started thinking about all the lessons about life and myself that running has taught me.
I learned that age really is just a number. I used to really dread getting older. I remember growing up that my parents just never seemed to find any joy in anything. If that's what getting older meant, I didn't want any part of it. Then I discovered running and the joy of running through big puddles in a rain storm and kicking through a carpet of red leaves in the fall. I also learned that there are a lot of fast older runners. I was soundly beaten in a half marathon by a fast 70 year old when I was in my mid 30s. I know that as I approach 60, there will be a fast 80 year old around the corner waiting to kick my ****.
I learned that I cannot eat everything I want just because I run. I have run fat and I have run lean and running lean is definitely better. When you want your body to be like a high preformance machine, you have to fuel it with premium and not junk.
I learned after I crossed the finish line of my first marathon that I was not the big loser that I grew up thinking I was. I ran a marathon. I could do anything. That was the beginning of a long process that changed my entire life.
I learned that I can be so tired and hurt so much but can dig down and find a way to keep going. That lesson served me well when dealing with family issues, my mother's lung cancer, my divorce and a severe clinical depression all at the same time. I learned that I wasn't running AWAY from problems, but running THROUGH them.
I learned to always have more than one goal. The ultimate goal is to finish, then there is the goal of a certain time if things go reasonably well. THEN the secret goal of a personal best time if you have that golden moment and everything falls into place. In 18 marathons, that has happened to me only once.
I learned that no matter how hard you work at something, sometimes, sh*t happens and you just have to make the best of it knowing that you did all you could to make it work. We have no control over weather, injury, or illness.
I learned about friendship. The running community has some of the best people in the world. For the most part, they are non-judgemental and very supportive (kind of like all of you). You learn a lot about people and solve a lot of problems passing the time on those long runs. My running friends saw me at my very worst and still loved me. If it hadn't been for them, I probably wouldn't be here.
I learned that sometimes you have to take a step back and change directions. There is nothing wrong with that. Down time is just as important as that active time. When I was running seriously and training with a coach, I would take an entire week off right in the middle of very intense training. I came back feeling stronger and better able to handle the workouts. I ran my best times after those periods. It's important that we do that in our day to day lives. We are better people because of it.
OK, this has gotten long and may not even make sense. Chalk it up to the nervous mind of someone with pre-marathon jitters. I will feel you all with me tomorrow and I know you'll be cheering me on as I cross that finish line.
Love and hugs