Several years ago I stepped on a treadmill to see if I could stay on for a full 30 minutes without stopping. That day changed my life in countless ways. Running both challenged and inspired me and I loved every minute.
One of the top ten moments in my life will always be the day after my first half marathon. I will never forget walking down a very quiet hallway at work and it literally “clicked” that I had finished a half marathon. It had taken a full 24 hours to set in, but when it did it felt amazing. Thank god there was no one around because I was so giddy I couldn’t stop grinning.
For me, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done – and something that I never thought I was capable of achieving. I was never very athletic….so when I woke up at 6am on a Saturday mornings to run ten, twelve or fourteen miles – I was doing something many people chose not to do and that in itself was so motivating.
It was never only the act of running that I craved – it was the overwhelming satisfaction of having completed a run. Pair that satisfaction with the moments that made the world feel incredibly peaceful – and you have the runners high. Moments just hearing the rhythm of your own steps with nature that makes everything seem perfectly in balance.
Unfortunately too much of anything can be toxic. Fast-forward two years to a few months before my 30th birthday – and a about a month before my first full marathon. I was placing an enormous amount of pressure on myself to run a full marathon. “26.2 before 30” – that was my goal…my mantra.
My body had other plans. Six weeks before the marathon I had to completely stop running for six to eight weeks due to Iliotibial Band Syndrome. Something common to runners that would keep me from running several weeks past race day. To say I was crushed was an understatement, but even worse was the amount of relief I felt.
I realized then that I had taken one of the best things in my life and removed any joy it gave me by setting unrealistic expectations. By pushing myself without taking moments to acknowledge and appreciate any progress I was living in the future because the present was never enough.
What I learned the hard way is that you can’t force things, you can’t always have a plan and being in the moment to appreciate what’s real is so important.