I know I’ve talked about running before, but tomorrow I run in the Hartford, Connecticut Marathon, so I’ve had running on my mind . . . a lot. For 16 weeks now a couple of friends and I have been training. Running four times a week, building up our mileage, training to increase our speed, doing yoga and pilates on our days off, and basically working our bu**hmmm-emm . . .tails off. A lot of people have run marathons, or done other hard things like giving birth naturally or putting shoes on a two-year old when he didn’t want you to, so some of my epiphanies today may not be anything new, but I want to record them anyway, for posterity.

Lesson #1: You can’t do hard things without preparation.

Tomorrow I will attempt to run 26.2 miles and according to the exercise physiologists and the running experts I should be able to, because I followed a training program that conditioned my body to do that. I started out low miles, slow pace and gradually increased both, allowing my body to become stronger without injury. A few weeks ago we ran 22 miles . . .it took us over four hours, things hurt, but we did it. And we could because the week before that we ran 20, and before that 18, and before that 16, you get the idea. Other hard things in life can be accomplished with preparation too. Share some of your success stories in the comments below!

Lesson #2: Setting and reaching goals makes you feel good!

Something I absolutely love about running is how objective it is. I woke up at 5:30 for Saturday after Saturday and ran for hours and hours. I did it, no one can tell me I didn’t or argue with me. It’s done. I decided to do it and I did. By contrast I have also committed to become a Saint and always remember the Savior, that one is a little harder to assess. So yeah, I like that something in my life is getting checked off the to-do list, something I’m working hard at. I feel powerful and happy, even with runner’s rash and blisters. Applied to everything else I realize I can set and reach small goals that will take me in the right direction and I’ll feel just as good. Success begets success, something in motion stays in motion, and all those little truths apply here.

Lesson #3: Output requires input.

The day we did our 18 miler a tropical storm was brewing. Remember Gustave? I’m in New York, so the winds weren’t blowing down trees or anything, but the temperature hovered in the 80’s with humidity that soaked you after only seconds. I carry a water belt that has four 10 oz. bottles on it and I had to refill three times before the end of that run. After we came home it started raining and rivers of water rushed down the streets. I felt horrible. The weather had something to do with it, but I also hadn’t been sleeping much or eating enough for the few days before, so when I asked my body to run and run and run, especially in those conditions it just couldn’t. I hadn’t prepared well enough. The next week for our 20 miler I ate carbs for days, slept as much as possible (even taking naps instead of getting online and reading blogs-a sacrifice you know), and I felt good at the end of 20 miles. If I want my body to put out energy I have to fuel it, rest it, prep it. I have to input all the right things to get the end result I hope for. And what about the help we need to serve, learn, teach . . .isn’t it also true that when we input personal scripture study, prayer, time spent at church and the temple renewing our covenants then we have something to give?

I will update you on how it goes. But here’s my last pontification for the day. Barring some major catastrophe I know I will finish the race tomorrow. I have faith in my body, in my preparation, in my will to achieve this hard thing. When we do what is required that is the result-faith that gets us through! Now apply away . . .so many connections.

21 Comments

  1. Blue

    October 10, 2008

    good luck heather! i’m running my 1st race this weekend too…Long Beach CA, only i’m just committed to the half.

    my preparation hasn’t been as thorough as yours…several setbacks along the way have threatened to derail me. but i am committed to showing up. and i’m committed to running when i can, walking when i can’t, and no matter what i’ll cross the finish line and complete what i started.

    my race won’t be the fastest by a very long shot. my form is inelegant. my joints may stretch and bones may break. but if they do i’ll keep going. and i’ll enjoy the experience. it’s going to be a beautiful race.

    we run along the ocean, all 17k of us runners and walkers. i’m excited for the energy that will attend it.

    while i’m looking forward to this culminating event, i’m mostly just grateful for how preparing for this race has helped me to get physically fit. i’ve been struggling to make exercise a part of my life for the past dozen years or so. i’m quite possibly in the best shape of my life because of my training efforts. i haven’t had a training buddy…which is likely the only thing that would have made this endeavor better. it’s always good to have a supportive friend along the way. my supportive friends have been more on the emotional and e-support end of the spectrum. which is often how it works in life too. this race is analogous in a number of ways to life…except in the matter of finishing first. finishing well, or just enduring till the end is enough to qualify us for the kingdom, especially when we endure well.

    have fun and enjoy the ride!

  2. Tiffany

    October 10, 2008

    I haven’t an interesting comment to the excellent post, but I just realized that there is a blogger on Segullah that lives sort of close to me! I think that is cool. Any chance of an eastern coast/New York/Connecticut segullah meet?

  3. wendy

    October 10, 2008

    Heather and Blue, good luck! I’m not a runner . . . yet! I love hearing about it from my running friends/families. Thanks for sharing your lessons–apropos to life, yes?

  4. Maddison

    October 10, 2008

    First off, good luck! Do let us know how it was when you’re done!

    The first thing that comes to mind about accomplishing hard things once I properly prepared myself was overcoming my math phobia.

    Due to the nature of my childhood all the way through high school, who my parents (and the others I lived with) were and how they raised me, school was the last thing on my list ever as a young person ~ in fact, I don’t even think it made the list!

    So, fast forward to meeting and marrying my husband. I expressed to him whilst discussing my life’s goals that I would love to be able to one day go to college. He tells me that he will pledge to do all he can to make sure that I am able to do so. Oh, the joy! So, I start out in college, placing in the very lowest math class there is (4X5, etc.). I hated, hated, hated math. I didn’t understand it, I hated that I even had to go through it, and ultimately after completing everything through pre-algebra, I quit, trying desperately to find a math-free career that I could go through. And did I try. I started my nursing pre-req’s but quickly realized that I am NOT a science person either. I started a paralegal program, quickly realizing that I would barely be keeping my head above water and that I ultimately would be bored to tears in this career.

    I was desperate. I couldn’t think of another career in which I could possibly be happy that didn’t involve math, I couldn’t get a full-time job due to the economy just having started it’s decline, and my Social and Behavioral Sciences degree was useless at the moment. I very much wanted to follow my heart’s desire (become a sociologist); I had to go back to school. This I did, knowing I had no other option but to face my fear head-on. This I did. And the most amazing thing happened… I found that I was suddenly good at it! I got it! I liked it! HUH?????? This astounded me and still does (I am almost done!). I don’t get how this is possible, but I hardly have to pay attention in class because I already get the material – passing with flying colors at the moment and not for one minute taking it for granted. I feel that at the present moment there is a conduit opened up between me and all things math and I am very cautious not to abuse this because I fear it could be taken away from me without notice! lol

    Yes, I have more important things I’ve overcome, but this one is the most relevant to me at the moment and at least to me, it’s amazing.

    Thanks for the invitation to share. 🙂

  5. Andrea R

    October 10, 2008

    First of all, congratulations on preparing for a marathon! It takes so much hard work and dedication. I’m pondering a half marathon in December, so I admire what you’re doing.

    I am doing my 4th sprint triathlon in 2 weeks, and I agree with everything you have said. I loved the quote that Sister Dalton gave in her talk from Juma Ikangaa,the 1989 NYC marathon winner, “The will to win means nothing if you haven’t the will to prepare.” I have my training schedule on the refrigerator, and I cross off each training day as I complete it so that I can see what I’ve done and what I’ve missed. Plus, having it someplace public makes me feel accountable.

    I absolutely love the feeling of accomplishment after I have completed a race. I have never won or placed high in my age group, but to me, I have won every race. As I’m racing and people pass me, I think to myself, “This is YOUR race. The only person you’re competing against is yourself.” My times have improved every race, and to me, it doesn’t matter if I win, just if I finish.

    Good luck on your race!! You will be awesome!

  6. Kelly Jo

    October 10, 2008

    YOU GO GIRL!!! Yea, I’m so excited for you and proud of you. I’ve been running regularly for the past few weeks and it’s feeling good. Enjoy your race and remember how you feel!

  7. Sher

    October 10, 2008

    Is this your first marathon? Good luck and congratulations!
    There is something about running a marathon that gives you such a sense of accomplishment and exuberance. At least it did for me. I ended up running 3 marathons this year becuase I enjoyed it so much!
    Good luck!

  8. Giggles

    October 10, 2008

    Yippy! I’m an occasional marathoner myself. I love the feel of propelling myself that for with just the power of my own body. I ran the Deseret News Marathon in Salt Lake this July to celebrate my 30th birthday the day before. One of these days I’d like to qualify for Boston.

    Marathons are almost as much a mental, spiritual, and emotional journey as they are a physical one. There is a reason they’ve been used as analogies in the occasional Conference talk.

    Good Luck!

  9. SingleSpeed

    October 10, 2008

    The wonderful sense of accomplishment one feels as weaknesses become strengths should not be underestimated…

  10. Carrie

    October 10, 2008

    I’ve set and am working towards reaching a goal! I’ve lost 47 lbs this year so far, and am DETERMINED to lose 28 more by Christmas. I’ve worked so hard and I totally agree that achieving goals makes you feel good! I think this can apply (obviously) to any goal not just fitness goals. When I made my daughter a quilt for her bed, that felt pretty good too! But the whole looking better than you have in years is pretty awesome!

  11. Jennifer B.

    October 10, 2008

    Good luck! I enjoyed reading your epiphanies and plan to think more about how they each apply in my own life.

  12. Lindsay

    October 10, 2008

    Good luck with the marathon! I LOVE to run. It’s the only thing which has kept me sane these past 6.5 months.

    One thing I’ve learned while running is that my head quits much faster than my body does. I find that if I just crank up the music, talk or book that I’m listening to for 20 minutes or so, my head eventually gets back with it and I can meet my goal for the day. Oh, and I’ve learned just how much snack food I have to pack to satisfy my two little ones who get to ride in the jogging stroller. It’s incredible. I always run out. Always.

    Be sure to let us know how it goes! I’ll be rooting for you!

  13. meredith

    October 10, 2008

    good luck, heather! i’ll be thinking of you! i ran that race in 2005– it’s a great course! really beautiful and scenic!

  14. Shelah

    October 11, 2008

    Heather– I can’t wait to hear your race report. I bet you’re finishing right now– I hope it went well.

  15. m&m

    October 11, 2008

    I hope it went well. I’m always so impressed with marathoners.

    I never did that long of a run, but I used to be an avid jogger. I miss it terribly. (Can’t now. *sniff*)

  16. Heather H.

    October 12, 2008

    Thanks to everyone for your well wishes! The race was awesome! It really couldn’t have gone any better. I finished under five hours, my two goals were met . . .to finish, in under five hours! Yeah.

    I’ll write a more thorough report on my blog this week, with photos included.

  17. eastcoasttransplant

    October 12, 2008

    “…other hard things like giving birth naturally and putting shoes on a two year old when he doesn’t want you to…”

    Amen!

    I’m not a marathoner (my knees prefer the low impact of an elliptical trainer after having 4 kids), but I’ve done the other two mentioned above,and all I can say is that at least you’re never in labor for a whole year.

    I love my two year old. Really. And right now I’m just glad that he hasn’t tried to bite his new baby sister or throw anything at her head for almost two entire weeks.

  18. Erin

    October 14, 2008

    I’m amazed that anyone can get through a race like that. It’s quite inspiring, really. I’ve never accomplished such a strenuous physical goal. I’m quite a wimp! However, you’ve always been such an inspiration to me, and once again, you’ve inspired me to at least think about it. That’s a step, right?
    Congrats on finishing the race, dear friend!

  19. Katie C

    October 15, 2008

    Isn’t it amazing that the physical and the spiritual are so closely tied together? My dad made us do some physically challenging bike rides growing up (like biking across the United Sates) and I was amazed at how many times I have come back to lessons learned from said trips. But the funny part is that the lessons have little to do with actual biking but more about how I approach and act upon life.

    I think you are awesome and congrats on reaching your goals.

  20. jack parler

    April 15, 2009

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing these tips.

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