Half Marathon Meditations
First of all, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t at least 1% of me writing this just to inform you that I recently ran a half marathon. I mean, I figure if I trained for 14-ish weeks and paid to wake up before the sunrise and run for 2 and a half hours (2 hours 20 minutes, actually) I get at least some bragging rights, right?
I DID IT! I ran a half-marathon.
Okay I’m done.
The real point of this post is, as the title suggests, to reflect on what I learned through training for and completing a half. Because, if you know me (and I think your reading this is evidence that you do) you know nothing goes without meaning or teaching in my world, and running 13.1 miles is no exception.
I’ve written about running before here (#14) (and more informatively, here, on my fitness blog— in case you’re interested in some running tips & tricks), but I can’t emphasize enough what running, especially running far, has taught me.
It may seem like a stretch to some people to believe that running has had the meditative and reflective influence on me that it’s had, but I wanted to share with you anyway (maybe more for me than for you) some things I’ve learned through the miles.
1. It’s all relative.
I just love this thought. When I started training, I was running 2 and 3 miles for a couple weeks, with the thought of one day running SEVEN MILES being terrifying. At mile 9 during my race, I remember thinking I was almost done because I “only” had 4 miles left. Four miles used to be FAR for me!!
It’s all relative.
When you do hard things, your standards and perceptions of difficulty change. What’s “hard” today could one day be your comfort zone. It’s just a matter of pushing yourself, because it’s really all relative.
2. Commitment > willpower.
I’ve also written about this before, and I think about it quite a lot, because I personally battle willpower demons daily. Do I want to do that? Do I feel like doing X right now? There are constantly choices to be made, and as far as I can tell, we humans don’t always do so well with them.
Commitment eliminates many choices, which can be both wonderful and frustrating. It was insanely liberating to not have to wonder during training whether or not I wanted to go for a run or felt like getting out of bed. That was willpower trying to take over, but I committed to this race (financially and mentally) and learning to honor that commitment (and in turn, learning to respect myself) taught me so much about the value of commitment over willpower.
3. Choose your thoughts wisely. They have more control over you than you think.
It’s up to you where you’re going to put your focus and attention, and we need to be careful about choosing which thoughts we’re going to pay attention to and which ones we’re going to ignore. Many of us choose to mope and whine about our circumstances or situations. “They didn’t do this the way I wanted,” “It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s _____,” “I didn’t do this and now this can’t happen and everything is ruined because my expectations were not met.”
Those things may very well be true, and it’s not about pretending those things don’t exist, it’s about thoughtfully and intentionally devoting attention to areas that serve us rather than drag us down. Because, as I learned through miles of solitude with only my thoughts to entertain (or berate) me, there are certain thoughts to which extra time need not be devoted.
We can change our whole attitude by changing our thoughts. Instead of focusing on the things that serve absolutely no positive purpose, think instead things like, “What am I looking forward to this week?” “What am I proud of myself for having done this month?” “Man, that sure was a fun dinner last night!” “I’m so glad it’s nice enough to get outside today.”
I learned to create and nurture positive thoughts, and it changed everything.