No one runs 100 miles because they like running.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to run.
When I first began running, I felt like I would die each time. My chest ached, lungs burned, muscles tightened, and my hot pulse pounded in my head like an unforgiving bass beat. But, there is a “threshold” of sorts with running. Once you get to the other side, all of the suffering ceases and peace ensues. My body moves on autopilot, without any mental effort, creating space in my mind for tranquility and relaxation.
Running is freedom. No one to call, no social media to check, no expectations from anyone. Just me and the road. At times, it’s downright amazing.
But, I’m not planning to run 100 miles because I like running. I think people run 3 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles because they love running. Maybe they train for a half marathon or two. When a runner desires to go farther, to accomplish a marathon or longer, a new brink is breached. Being an endurance runner is a different thing entirely.
I haven’t competed in marathons and Ironman triathlons because I love running (or cycling or swimming), but I do love those things. Endurance racing is a step higher than simple affection for a sport. It’s an affinity for progress.
Truth: I cannot stand stagnancy. While I like to rest and relax (preferably at the beach) as much as the next person, I need to be challenged. I require growth.
Endurance racing provides, for me, the platform necessary for mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional improvement. Personal development is accomplished in a variety of forums, but I haven’t found one that fits me like endurance racing.
1. Mental: everything you do is limited by your own thinking.
Running and racing takes mental fortitude. Please know that this is developed and nurtured in the same way that all skills are. My training runs are as much mental preparation as they are physical preparation. Learning that I can keep going when I don’t think I can has been imperative to my success as a person. Failure isn’t final.
This isn’t humanity’s normal inclination. I think humanity trends towards consistently letting itself off of the hook. Perfection isn’t the goal, and being gentle with oneself is important. However, the occasions when we tell ourselves we “can’t” create limitations of our own power. It’s when we exchange the “won’t” for “can’t” that we’re able to take responsibility, and, in turn, allow ourselves the power to change our mentality and, consequently, our circumstances.
2. Spiritual: space to listen is paramount to spiritual development.
I cannot stress this enough. In today’s culture, we are busy. Busy, busy, busy. Like ants hustling back to the mound, we scurry around day after day. Developing new and expanding spiritual patterns requires space for listening. Running creates the space in which I can listen and just “be.”
God has me as his captive audience. The majority of my writing comes to me when I’m running. Areas that I need to work on show up when I’m running. Answers are revealed to me when I’m running. It’s not the running, per se, but the room generated to hear from God.
3. Physical: endurance running produces physical development.
Running is the great weight equalizer. There are tons of different exercise modalities, but none will cause you to drop weight faster than running. I’m not going to win any medals, but running improves fitness. Period. I burn so many calories that I can literally eat whatever I want.
Admission: I’m addicted to the changes running has on my body. During my current training cycle, the physical changes have been crazy. I’m not sure the casual observer would notice, but I can literally see the strength building in my body. I can look in the mirror and notice muscles I didn’t seem to have several weeks before. Running does, however, wreak havoc on my skin. All of the sweat, sunscreen, sun, and chafing takes its toll.
4. Emotional: running and the required solitude has deepened my EQ
Running is a diffuser. I have a hot temper and can react, react, react to situations (one “react” simply doesn’t tell the whole story). Running relieves stress. It provides a melting pot for my emotions to simmer down, and it uses up energy created by anger and sadness. Running gives my life balance.
I advocate cardiovascular fitness for everyone. I didn’t even touch on the health aspects because I think there is a general awareness of them. Running is beneficial to hearts, both literally and figuratively.
I train for endurance events because the mental growth challenges me in other areas of my life. Running teaches me and reminds me (which I constantly need) to push beyond what I think I can do, beyond what is possible. I love how it affects me physically; I can see the bodily changes and myself growing beyond what I thought possible.
I run to sweep out my heart, mind, and soul to allow for growth emotionally and spiritually, giving God space to work in and through my life.
People frequently ask me why I would consider running 100 miles.
Now you know. 🙂