If you would have told me back in the spring what I would accomplish over the summer, I would have shaken my head and told you that you had the wrong person. Me? Run? Run a race? Run two races? You’re crazy.
Here’s the thing. I did run. I even ran a race. In fact, I ran two. I am not signed up for any more races this year. I think we might be nearing the end of my “competitive” running season – until next summer of course. But I learned a thing or two while running races.
I continuously over trained for my races. By the time the two-miler came up, I was used to outrunning two miles. I was averaging around 5km (almost two kilometres further than my race). And I had pushed myself to 7km by the time my 5K race came. So, I assumed that these races would be relatively simple. They would be shorter than normal races – Easier than normal races.
Or so I thought.
Running a race is entirely different from running a routine, well-trodden path. When I go walk out my door to start my runs, I know exactly where to go and how long it will take me. I have a general idea where each of my kilometre markers are and I can therefore compare myself to previous runs to see how I am measuring up. The 1km mark is halfway down the lake. I hit 2km shortly after crossing the bridge. 3 and 4 are crossed on the same road, one as soon as I enter, the other as soon as I leave it. I hit 5km right after a slight incline and 6 happens to be right outside my apartment building. If I keep going around the block, 7 brings me home again.
I know my route. I know how long it is and where the hills are and who I am likely to see. I know when to expect to work hard and when I can allow myself to coast. I am the only one pushing myself, I am the only one to be accountable to, and I am the only one getting me from here to there. It is my route, and it has become second nature.
Races, although shorter than my typical route, are always harder.
Part of the difficulty is that I never run the race alone. There are always runners ahead of me and behind me. Runners are continuously passing me while I pass other runners. Some runners act as obstacles while others encourage me to run just a little faster.
But the real adversity I face is that the route is rarely familiar to me. Even though I may know the neighbourhood, the route itself is foreign. My mind cannot run the route in my head while my body is racing. I can’t situate myself on the course, how far is left, how my pace is, or even where I am going. Most of the time I simply follow the runners ahead of me, trusting that they will lead me to the finish line.
After even just a kilometre into my race, I find myself feeling winded an worn out.
Races are harder than day-to-day runs.
But finishing races also provides infinitely more rewards.
Earlier this year, while I was on maternity leave, before I had even started running, I placed a verse right above my computer workspace at home.
Running races has taught me more about life and faith than it has about running. It has taught me that things can be easy when we are on the familiar, well-trod, circular path. But that gets you nowhere other than back to the beginning. Racing is tough. It is competitive. It is unknown and it scary. It requires preparedness and practice and bravery and courage. It requires trust. And it is incredibly rewarding.
I’m pressing on in my race. I want to encourage you to do the same.
And now, it is your turn. Courtney and I would love to connect with you on your healthy living journey. You can talk about whatever you want – your milestones, goals attained (or not), losing weight, eating better, exercising, or other healthy lifestyle changes and choices.
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Let’s encourage one another on to living healthier lives!