11 Things I learned while training for a half marathon
One day in January my sister called me up and said, “Let’s do a half marathon”. I thought to myself, “Yeah right! I can’t even run 3 miles! I’ll never be able to do 13…” But, I decided to be a good sport and say, “Sure, I’ll give it a try.” You see, our father died from prostate cancer last September. I think my sister was looking for a way to cope with our loss, and feel connected to our dad, an avid runner. Seemed like a good idea to me.
Our journey started by using the Hal Higdon Novice Half Marathon Training Program. (Which I highly recommend!) I remember the first day I ran 4 miles…I hadn’t felt that proud of myself in a long time. So here are the lessons I learned (or affirmed!) along the way:
1. You never know what you can do until you push yourself.
If we limit ourselves to what we “think” we can or can’t do, we will never really know what we are capable of accomplishing.
2. No one said it was going to be easy.
I think too often we get discouraged in life because we want, and expect, things to be easy. But as cliché as it is, there is so much truth in the fact that the things in life that have been the most challenging have brought the most reward.
3. Urge Surfing works.
I often teach my clients the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) concept of Urge Surfing aka Ride the Wave. I teach them that feelings are like the ocean current. They are dynamic and change by rising and subsiding in intensity, just like a wave. And just like an ocean current, it is better to “ride the wave”, rather than fight the current. You apply this by “riding the wave” of an emotional urge, rather than giving into the urge, knowing that at some point the intensity will subside. I used this principle very often in my training. I told myself that my thoughts of wanting to stop were just urges, and that my body was prepared to keep going. I can’t tell you how many miles this technique got me through.
4. Running is the best medicine.
It’s a nature anti-depressant, anti-anxiety. When I don’t exercise, I get crabby. Enough said.
5. It’s good for me to have goals.
Sticking to a written schedule and having a training companion helped me stick to my training routine tremendously. It really did feel so good to check off each day of training and watch my miles go up and up each week. I loved to reward myself with a new tank top or other running accessory!
6. It’s ok to spend time away from my kids.
Too often we mothers limit pursuit of our own goals because of feelings of guilt, thinking that it’s selfish to spend time on ourselves, rather than with our children/family. Spending time doing something for myself definitely helped me be a happier, more engaged parent. I modeled to my children what hard work and dedication looks like, as well as self praise and feelings of accomplishment.
7. My sister is my best friend.
Okay, I already knew this, but this time together just made our relationship stronger. I admire my sister as a strong and beautiful woman every day. She definitely motivates me to push myself in ways others can’t.
8. My husband rocks!
Also another thing I already knew, but he really stepped up and supported me with this 100%. He gave up months of precious Saturday morning sleep to take care of the kids so I could get my 1-2 hour run in.
9. Volunteers make a difference!
While running on race day, there were many volunteers supporting and encouraging us runners. It was exhilarating to say the least, and also quiet emotional. The cheers, high fives, and thumbs-up along the way definitely helped me complete the journey!
10. My dad has always been, and always will be, by my side.
Even though my dad couldn’t physically be here with us on this journey, I have no doubt in my mind that he was with me, and my sis, every step of the way. Our bond cannot be separated by death. I know he is so proud of us!
11. I must be crazy…
My sister has, yet again, talked me into training for our first full marathon! Marine Corp Marathon Oct. 25 2015…here we come!
One last thing... Thank you mom for all your love and support. I couldn't do the things I do without you too!