I bet you’re thinking based on my title this is going to be a long drawn out boring post. It won’t be I promise. At least I hope you don’t think so! To be honest, I was unsure how to title this post but as I was running in the wind today (again) I had numerous thoughts running through my mind about my last 18 weeks of training. WIND happened to be at the top of the list since I had more runs (and races) in the wind than not. Geez…..
“We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.” – Emil Zatopek
Today as I finished my last semi long training run before my next marathon, which took me so much longer than I anticipated due to 25 to 30 mile wind gusts, I got a bit emotional. Not because it was a tough and windy run and it sucked, but because my dream of running not just one marathon over three decades ago came true, but here I am today, traveling back to Rome to run in my 23rd marathon. My decision to run in my first marathon back in the 80’s was simply based entirely on a dream to prove to myself I could really run 26.2 miles. I didn’t even use a training plan but I just ran…lots! It was at least a decade or more before I caught the marathon bug again, but I am sure glad I did. Training for this marathon made me realize so many other benefits. First off, I am in darn good shape for mid fifties. I have made numerous new friends. And since I do most of my longer runs solo, I have found countless hours to reflect on my life and have learned some valuable lessons…DREAMS DO COME TRUE.
- “Do you dream of things you want to accomplish in life?” All dreams have one thing in common…..They begin by taking that first step to make them come true. Running my first marathon was like a dream come true!! I made it happen by taking that first step and working hard to fulfill my dream. It became completely within reach by simply taking one small step at a time. Maybe your dream is to write a book? Start a business? Be debt free? Dreams can be accomplished – one small step at a time!
- Keep Dreaming! Once one dream is accomplished, don’t stop there. Find another dream and go after it. Several years after that first marathon, I decided to go after another dream. I wanted to run Boston so I worked hard and I qualified it! Not just once, but several times. One of the hardest things is to believe in yourself and when things get rough, don’t stop. Someday I may make it back to Boston but for now, I am enjoying exploring new destinations and running!
- Fuel Fuel Fuel! You can’t complete a marathon without fueling your body correctly. This takes time to figure out but experiment and eventually you’ll get a handle on when to fuel on before, during and after runs. However, what is true for all of us, your body is your home base for life. Fuel it properly by eating healthy. You only get one life and one body to live it in – take good care of it.
- Compete Less. Encourage More. My friends are amazing! Runners are notorious for offering encouragement to one another. They understand an important race principle: there is room at the finish line for all of us. It isn’t all about winning or losing, it’s about the experience and being in it together. It’s not every day you have complete strangers filling you with encouragement and are committed to helping you get across that finish line strong. Wouldn’t our world be so much better off if everyone learned to encourage more and compete less?
- Minimalize. I never run with a phone, iPod, headphones, etc mostly because I enjoy being lost in my thoughts and just want to enjoy my run! On longer runs I wear my fuel belt out of necessity but less stuff to carry is definitely better. So shed the excess! Possess less and carry as little as possible and you too may find you’ll run better and enjoy your run even more! The same goes true with my life….Getting rid of excess stuff that isn’t necessary has been on my list for over a year now. Excess possessions weigh you down more than you think and I can’t wait to continue to practice living a minimalist lifestyle. Work in progress!
- Silence is GOLDEN. Some marathoners like to run listening to music or talk to a running partner. I’ve never been that kind of a runner. In fact, the very first email I received from my now husband was, “I heard you’re a runner and thought I’d see if you’d like to go on a run with me?” I replied….“nope, I prefer to run solo”. I could share more but lets just say I was’t ready to date him or any other man. Luckily for me, he didn’t give up on me:-) In any case, I do prefer time alone on my run lost in my thoughts. Some people enjoy running with noise. But I have grown to love the silence. You just may learn to love silence too if you give it a shot… And I’m not just talking about running. Meditation is a good thing.
- If you want to make new friends, join a running group or find any hobbie you enjoy! My husband and both happen to love to run. We both love to stay fit. We both love to explore new places and most of all, we both love trying new restaurants. I’ve also met an abundance of friends in my local run and yoga classes. If you are looking for new friends, I recommend jumping into a new hobby: learn to run, join a book club, hook up with your local biking group, join a tennis league, pick up quilting, volunteer, or give spirituality a shot. You will be pleasantly surprised at the new people you will meet.
- Run with your head up. I love this one! This is not only good instruction for proper running technique but also a metaphor for life. Stay positive and confident. Look ahead and around and soak in as much of life as possible!
- Learn to embrace the Hills. Sometimes climbing a hill seems like the impossible. Your breathing gets heavier, and every step gets harder and harder. Hang on, the downhill is coming and you’ll soon be exerting less energy and you’ll feel like you’re flying. It’s true in life too…..If you’re feeling like your life is running uphill right now, keep fighting. It’s worth it!
- If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together This is one of my favorite old African proverbs. So much truth to it! In the beginning of a marathon I run by myself. I try to run my own race, concentrate on not going out too fast and not worry about the other runners passing me by. But during miles 23-26.2 I find the encouragement from other runners is almost mandatory. I try and look ahead and go “fishing” for that runner ahead of me. I’ll hang with another runner until I am ready to go fishing again. The presence of another runner, their pace, and their encouragement means so much! Truly, the task of completing a marathon would not be possible without other runners and spectators.
Remember, Your dreams are far too valuable to be wasted. If you’ve got one, start realizing it today. You have no idea how it may change your life for the better.