2017 was the year I ran three marathons-which is something I never intended to do. With almost 15 hours of running marathon races, plus the thousands of training hours I spent throughout the year, I picked up a couple of lessons about myself.
#1 My brain is my will: I have learned that if my brain decides that it will be so, then damn it- it will be done. At some point in 2016, I made the decision to run all of these races, and fool-hardly signed up for all of the lotteries to run the marathons. So I told myself over and over again: I will run these races and finish them strong. I made the financial investment to purchase tickets, pay registration fees, book hostel lodging and get myself to these places after I committed to sign up for these races. I made the weekly commitment to run races across all the weather elements, and it wasn’t easy, when all I wanted to do was sit at home and just chill. But every day I decided to run was a commitment to my original promise to finish these races.
Just because I told myself that I was going to finish, doesn’t that mean that I didn’t deal with thoughts riddled with anxiety and self doubt. Mornings before the races, I would hear a little voice tell myself that there was a possibility that I would get hurt or that I may not complete the race. This thought was followed by stomach aches and anxiety. I would breathe and let the thought fade away
My strongest and fiercest self was when I told myself that I can power through and finish it. When I would hear others call my name and tell me that I could do it, I felt like a fresh rush of energy had coursed through my body.
The biggest takeaway was that if I tell myself that I am strong, believe in myself and gather a group of supporters along the way, there is really no stopping me.
#2 My body is strong: I’ve lived through illness and terrible accidents that have wrangled my body in ways that have transformed my relationship to my physical self. My body is now scarred but not broken. The toes in my feet have been smashed in and turned an ugly purple and white color. I have cuts and wounds from the races throughout my body and I’ve made fresh scars on top of my old scar. These scars will heal with time too.
But my legs are toned and muscular. They are strong, thick, and can be made stronger with greater weight exercises. I’m faster than I was three years ago and I believe that I can go as fast as the wind will let me.
Over the next year, I may take on another marathon or two. I will continue my weekly mileage but add strength exercises so that I will reduce the stress of running on my joints. And as I learn to swim and ride my bike more confidently in 2018, I will take the new found running lessons with me, take on my fears and grow into my body.