“This is the last part, you can do. Give it all you’ve got!” My friend said as we ran towards the finish line. We were sprinting to the end; my heart racing, legs trembling, feet burning. “I can’t do this” I panted when I realized the final part of the race was on an incline. “Yes, you can! C’mon!” She encouraged once more. As I crossed the finish line I felt my body release the tension I had felt for the last few minutes of the race and then relax.
I had trained 12 weeks to run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington DC. Signing up for the race was kind of a joke to me since I was informed it was based on a lottery and hard to get picked to participate. The joke turned into reality when 2 weeks later we were picked and I realized that I needed to learn how to run 10 miles. I had run previously but mainly short runs. The farthest I had gone was 5 miles on a treadmill with 3 walking breaks and that was a painful and sweaty ordeal. However, I was determined to run the full 10 and began training immediately.
During my training, I found myself with shin splints, foot pain and sore muscles. I rarely pushed myself that far physically and I could feel every milestone. I did not let the discomfort keep me from reaching my goal. I tracked my progress and could see results in speed and on my body. Running changed my body’s composition and I started to crave my runs. I felt myself becoming stronger physically and mentally.
One of the most important changes was I started to surround myself with other runners. My running friends were encouraging and helpful with advice and tips on training and gear. Mentally, I began seeing workouts, food and drink in a different light. I wanted to be successful in attaining my goal, but not obsessive. I worked on balance and meditated on the result.
The morning of the race, I woke up early and visualized myself crossing the finish line. As I walked to the race, I felt excited and happy that the day had finally arrived to prove to myself that I could run a race. The course was beautiful, the sun was shining and the air was crisp. We ran around the monuments, over the Potomac River with a cherry blossom canopy. At times, it felt like I was running through a story book.
I smiled and sang along to my playlist for most of the race. My friends who are faster runners sweetly ran along side me. It wasn’t until there was half a mile left when I felt my body and mind giving up. My friend’s encouragement and coaching really helped. I repeated the mantra “I am strong, I’ve got this” over and over in between her cheering. And shortly after the breakdown, I finished.
I think about muscles and how they have to tear and break down in order to grow. In the last few minutes of the race, I broke down but that was because I was growing. Doing hard things helps us grow. I wanted to quit, but persisted. I felt ready to sign up for another race just minutes after thinking I couldn’t finish; that’s what pushing the limits can do.
This lesson is true in many areas of life. When faced with a hardship, whether physical, mental or spiritual, we are provided an opportunity to grow and overcome. Being surrounded by loving, encouraging people helps. What we think and how we talk to ourselves during the growth is the most important. Believing that you can achieve the goal is powerful, especially when giving up and doubt enters our minds.
What are you facing that seems impossible? How can you change the messages you are telling yourself about it? Transform your doubt into doing. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it. Overcome self doubt with accomplishment. You’d be surprised what can happen. Our minds and bodies are stronger than we think.