I still remember the day my friend Lisa called and asked, “Will you sign up for Grandma’s Half Marathon with me?”
I’d been a recreational runner for years, and always thought of trying a half. But when faced with the actual doing of it—that was a different story! Pretty scary to tell the truth.
But I agreed, we trained, we raced, finished and celebrated! And I ran two more halfs in the next two years.
And you know what? I’ve learned a LOT about life because of training for these long races.
Here are the biggies:
It’s not about running. It’s about endurance.
This was the #1 lesson I learned. In fact, I think the main reason God gave me this odd desire to run is to teach me endurance for every other area of my life!
Looking at 13.1 miles from the beginning is so intimidating. But when we train, we don’t have to look at the full distance right away. First we look at 4 miles, then 4.5, then 5. Pretty soon we’re running 8 and 10.
And—wonder of wonders—on race day we find we can run 13.1!
The long runs are the key to building endurance.
I assumed, before seeing the training schedule, I’d have to be running long distances all the time to get ready for the race.
I was surprised (and relieved) to learn the daily runs can be as little as 3 miles. It’s the weekly long run that keeps stretching the limits of our endurance.
Rest days are just as important as running days.
The rest days built into the schedule are necessary for our bodies to recover, especially after the long runs. In fact, the rest days are the key to our bodies strengthening themselves.
When God designated a weekly Sabbath Rest, He knew what He was doing! We neglect it, and will pay for it physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Know your own pace.
I had just finished the half marathon course in 2:27. Not 5 minutes later, the women’s first place finisher of the full marathon finished. She ran 24 miles at the same pace I ran 13! Seriously??!
If I would’ve compared myself with her for even a few seconds, that would’ve been the end of my running career!
But God’s got things for me to do at the pace I’m wired for. When I embrace that and stop comparing myself with others, I can celebrate both my own pace and everyone else’s.
It’s easier and more motivating with others.
I like running alone. During my training, most of my runs were alone.
But it was a treat to meet up with others for the long runs.
There’s something special about rooting each other on, encouraging, supporting, understanding what others are going through because we’re going through it, too.
Whether it’s running, parenting, marriage, work, ministry, difficult situations…Whatever it is, God’s designed us to be part of a community that sticks together.
Sharon is the founder and publisher of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other website, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails, books and other marketing tools for clients.