Wednesday, August 29, 2012

26.2 Reasons to Run

I distinctly remember finishing my first half marathon and resolving NEVER to run a marathon. While 13.1 miles has it's enjoyments, I was confident 26.2 miles would eliminate all such pleasures and break my body in the process.

I have never been so happy, relieved, proud, and grateful to eat my words.

My discovery: the greatest difficulty of a marathon lies not in the race itself, but in the preparation. And the majority of that preparation? Mental. Of course there's an element of physicality that requires conditioning...and quite a substantial element at that. But I firmly believe that the real battle waged in running, be it 1 mile or 26.2, is with your mind. We're our greatest allies and our worst enemies, and challenging our bodies will take your mind one of two ways. The first, and most obvious: negativity. Running is THE WORST! I'm winded...maybe even breathing daggers. My joints are stiff. My big toenail's probably falling off. That hill killed my quads, and why is my right hamstring weirdly sore? My shoe's tied funny. No way am I going to make this. MUST...W.A..L...K. Seriously. Some days it feels that dramatic.

The other obvious alternative: positivity. But here's the key. ***Positivity doesn't mean you don't have any of the negative thoughts!*** But as they come, and they WILL come, you train yourself to look beyond them. You can acknowledge them, give them a moment of validation...the complaints ARE real after all and ignoring them isn't going to get you anywhere. But then you let them go. For me, that requires more than just stopping the negative thought before it becomes a negative thought process. You need a positive replacement. Some days, those might seem hard to come by, but if that happens to be the case, I know I needed the run. And a healthy dose of life perspective. Might as well find it on my feet!

This is one of my major reasons for running without music (in addition to safety). I can't afford the distraction. I need to tune into my body and how it feels, so I can tune in more effectively to my mind...where the true training begins!

In the final weeks before the race, I had a friend pass along a fun piece of advice she'd heard somewhere along her marathon training. For each mile you run, dedicate it to someone. Or something. Let that be your motivation and mental focus for the mile, with the idea that then 26.2 will fly by. She actually suggested pulling out a slip of paper each mile of the activity, but I wanted to be sure to experience the race itself to the fullest, letting my mind be in the moment. So I opted for making a gratitude list the night before, not assigning specific mileage, but putting myself in a place mentally where I was focused outside of myself. And it's amazing how many of them came to mind during the race itself. I won't list all 26, but here are a few.

First, last and somewhere on the middle of the list is my FAMILY!

I've never run a race where I had so much support. My parents braved the early wakeup call and chilly mountain morning with me, family showed up cheering at various points along the route, and were waiting for me at the finish line. A few of them even ran along side briefly. And of anything that came to mind during or after the race, this is what overwhelmed me with gratitude the most. Not because of the moments they helped along the race, but because of the moments they've helped me through my life. I'm eternally grateful for their support, friendship, and strength.


While the course I ran was mountainous, hilly, and difficult (mile 18 was dubbed Hamburger Hill due to the steep incline), Park City is NOT a shabby place. Vision is something that I find easy to take for granted...I've always had it. But no experience would be quite as sweet without the beautiful, the ugly, the humorous, and the inspiring pictures we see along the way. A mountain sunrise for example.

Others: Change, Food, Pain, Childhood, Judgment (and the restraint thereof), Weakness, Death, Emotions, Hard Work...the list goes on. It's a brief list of gratitude. My positive powers for training thought. My mental mastery. And ultimately my 26 reasons to run.

The last 0.2? It was all mine.

Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.

~Steve Prefontaine


  1. I love this. And hate it. In some freaky way it tells me that I can run a marathon too if I put my mind to it. Scary. You are amazing and SO inspirational! I have to say, you have truly given me a new perspective when it comes to running! And now it is becoming something I actually want to do! Well done sister!!

  2. Beautifully written. I have recently been contemplating a half marathon, something I told myself I'd never do. But the truth is I need motivation, something to work towards and something to push me. Thanks for the inspiration in your post. Love you girl!


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