My trainer recently asked me what the hardest thing about running was for me. I imagine she was trying to get a pulse on where I was physically and perhaps mentally. I told her that it wasn’t so much fatigue in my legs and muscles. For me, running is just the most intense exercise I can do.
I’m pretty sure I’m close to my maximum heart rate because my heart always feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest. I’m not out of shape either. I’ve been working out consistently for almost two years now, but running is by far, the most physiologically rigorous activity I’ve tried to date. Nevertheless, I want to improve so I keep at it.
Anyway, a couple of weeks back, we were running a couple of miles to prep for a 5k. I was trying to play it cool because she made it look so easy, but I was panting like crazy and trying not to collapse.
At some point though, after she’d gotten a few paces ahead, I slowed down to a walk. In a gentle, yet firm way, like any good coach would do, she urged me to keep going and try not to slow down.
Miraculously, I made it back to our starting point without fainting or getting sick, thank you very much. Then, Coach was gracious enough to let me catch my breath and hydrate before starting sprinting exercises. And it was the same … I wanted to be done and then I was gently, yet firmly challenged to go “one more time.” By the way, any trainer who tells you “one more time” is lying. They really mean three to five more times. But, it’s just what I needed. If left alone, I would’ve stopped. But with a supportive guide there, I did more than I thought I could.
There’s a term in fitness called overloading. Essentially what it means is that in order to improve, the body system must be stressed beyond its normal level and it will adapt. The mind and body are indivisibly connected. If you tell yourself you can’t, then you can’t. If you tell yourself you can, you can. It’s that simple. Then, your physiology catches up with whatever internal truth you accept. It’s pretty amazing.
Here’s my take home from that session: There’s a lot to be said about just continuing to put one foot in front of the other. It’s not particularly novel, but it is profound. While running your course, disregard the finish line. Sometimes seeing it can make the final steps the hardest ones to take. Just focus on your next steps.
I’m a smart girl. I had a hunch my trainer was trying to pull one over with the whole “one more time” line. Yet and still, I shifted mentally and ran with my all when I told myself it was my last time. I drew upon energy I didn’t know was there.
Such is life. Keep running your race, one foot diligently in front of the other, challenging yourself to go farther than you ever thought you could, and you’ll be amazed when you reach the finish line. It doesn’t matter how you stumbled or struggled on your way there. It’s about persevering. But, you won’t receive the victor’s prize unless you endure to the end.