Oftentimes, when I tell someone I have run marathons, they look at me like I am a bit crazy. And maybe I am. It takes a special kind of person to decide to spend what could be a leisurely Sunday morning running 26.2 miles while subsisting on packets of Gu and Gatorade. They often respond with, “Why would you do that?”. It’s a fair question. It’s certainly not for the ill-fitting race t-shirt and green banana at the end. So why do I?
I started running, like many new moms, as a means of getting back into shape. But overtime, as my endurance slowly built, running became a means to return to myself. With a toddler and new baby under my care, running was an opportunity to take a break from the demands at home. I could throw on a pair of shoes, head out the door, regroup and come back refreshed and more focused on the little people looking to me for their every need.
While running started as a way to better manage my life, something truly magical happened when I decided to sign up for my first marathon. Long distance running became a catalyst of self discovery. What used to be an activity I avoided like the plague, evolved into a chance to push my limits, develop mental toughness and tap into my possibilities. When lining up at the start of a race like a marathon, the fact that I have no one but myself to see it through comes into sharp focus. It’s going to get tough. I will think about quitting and I will start to lose faith in myself. And yet in each of those moments it’s also an opportunity to answer the call of what’s required to keep trudging on. Determination, pride and perseverance must be cultivated to meet the challenge head on. The result? Crossing the finish line is beyond rewarding. Relief mixed with sheer amazement at my own ability to stick with it is a powerful drug.
It’s a feeling I wish I could bottle up and pass on to others. Finding that challenge that feels just out of reach, on the edge of impossible, and then seeing it through can have a tremendous impact on all areas of one’s life. When you give yourselves the chance to tackle a challenge, you will reap the benefits long after it’s over. You’ll discover, after being in the trenches with yourself, a new found faith in your ability to get through hard things, physical or otherwise. You realize you can handle just about anything thrown your way. You learn to be patient with the process of growth and that you don’t need to know where the path is leading to stay on it.
For me, that challenge is the marathon but for someone else it could be running a 5K, finally nailing that difficult yoga pose, starting a business or backpacking Europe solo. It really doesn’t matter what the goal is. What matters is that it requires you to stretch your boundaries a little further than you believe they can be stretched. It’s in that space between where you currently are and where you will end up that is fertile ground for growth.
And when you arrive at that place of the goal accomplished, the hard work behind you, you discover a feeling that comes from no other place but yourself. You did it. No one else. It’s pretty awesome.
So go on, find your marathon.