“Running is a mental sport and we’re all insane” ~bumper sticker on my car.
I think it is safe to say that the majority of healthy adults could finish a marathon. Maybe they couldn’t run the whole way or qualify for Boston, but they could finish.
So why has only approximately .5% of the US population actually accomplished this goal?
It isn’t because their bodies can’t do it, it’s because their MINDS think they can’t.
A marathon is run with strong legs, healthy lungs, pumping arms, a clear mind and an open heart.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put in to it.”
Pretty profound and totally true.
When I ran the LA Marathon for the second time this past March, I knew I needed to put in the physical AND the mental work. I was coming off an injury, my RBF, Ditto, wasn’t running with me (she’s building a human right now!) and I hadn’t been feeling at my physical best.
I knew I had put in the miles. They were slow, there was a lot of walking, but I did it. I did speedwork, rode my bike when I couldn’t run and did some cross training to ensure I was healthy. I stretched like the PT told me to and I took it easy when I hurt (most of the time).
But I knew this race would be mentally tougher, so I came up with a plan.
I was inspired by actor Sean Astin to run for something bigger than myself. I was chosen as a #Run3rd Team Captain in 2012. (www.run3rd.blogspot.com ) #Run3rd is a simple message:
“Running can be a very selfish activity so; I run 1st for me, I run 2nd for my family and I run 3rd for you.”
YOU can be anyone or anything. People tweet and Facebook me prior to a race and I carry their intentions with me to push me through. It is akin to a prayer, but knowing that I am running in someone’s honor helps. It helps every time.
For this year’s marathon, I needed it to be personal. Rather than taking dedications from the masses, I wrote down 26.2 people who inspire me and make my life better. I assigned them a mile (Ditto and Litto-what I call her unborn child-got 26.2!) and wrote them a letter that I either mailed or hand delivered that explained how they were going to help me through the race.
And you know what? It worked!
The night before the race, I wrote each person’s mile on an index card and I carried it with me on race day.
The 2014 LA Marathon was the hardest day of my life so far. By mile 9, I was already overheating. By mile 16 the familiar pain started tugging at my left hamstring. By mile 17 the wheels had fallen off the wagon.
But I spent the next 9 miles putting them back on. Why? Because I wouldn’t…NO, I couldn’t let my 26.2 down.
Every time I thought about quitting I thought about the person who was running with me for that mile. I thought about how they inspire me and how lucky I feel to have them in my life. I thought about a funny story or what they would be saying to me at that moment and if I was going slow enough, I texted them their Mile Marker.
And I finished.
And although I spent the better part of 7 hours, 4 minutes and 50 seconds by myself, I was never really alone.
I had the support of the people who MOVE me. They move me when I see them hug their children, they move me when I see them reach a goal, they move me when they make me laugh or think. They move me with their support and encouragement.
And on March 9th, 2014, they moved me forward.
I am so lucky to have (more than) 26.2 people who support my insane love for running.
Whether you’re running your very first or your twentieth race, I encourage you to find what MOVES YOU.
Is it a special playlist? A list of bible verses? The thought of seeing your family at the finish line? The thought of having a beer at the finish line?
Whatever it is, find it and hold on to it, what moves you will get you through.