Yes, I wish I looked a lot more like this runner. No, I probably never will. Too many divided interests.
Anyway, the photo to me is more than a runner. Not only has running changed my life (as well as my body), but it has given me an open space to think and ponder. This past week, I was working on the problem of rebuilding my endurance after tailspinning for about two months.
That’s when it hit me:
You build endurance by enduring.
It’s that simple and that hard all at the same time.
In running, I have two choices for getting back in “marathon shape”:
- Set my speed and increase my ability to maintain that speed for longer and longer periods of time.
- Set my limit (I chose time, but I could have chosen distance), and then work to increase my speed.
My body and my mind work better with choice number two.
That’s when this amazing little thought hit me, and I realized that it has applied throughout my life!
As a codependent, I repeatedly found myself in situations where I was scared, and I chose to run. It was only after my divorce that I was in a situation where I might have been scared, but there was no way I could run — I had kids to take care of. I had no choice but to endure and to see it through.
Running was another opportunity to learn about endurance. I haven’t run any marathons, although I have now completed two. I have a long way to go as an athlete. Even so, I learned something about myself out there on those race courses. It was hard. I hurt. My body rebelled and twice I got physically sick enough (not with a virus — just the stress of the race) that I had ample excuse to quit. That’s when I learned I really am a fighter. I lost two toenails on my first marathon, and knew they were gone by mile 18. I kept going. Last year, there was so much stress leading up to the race that I thought my gut was going to take me out.
Endurance isn’t about what I have or who I am. It’s about who I choose to be and who I see myself becoming. It hasn’t been easy to quit a job that I loved with only a sketch of a back up plan and no real idea of what I’m doing. I have chosen to see myself as a budding entrepreneur and up-and-coming elite athlete. For me, those ideas make it easier for me to make the choices that will take me to my goals.
Endurance is a mindset. Endurance is going all in, failing, falling flat on your face, shaking the pain and the dust off, and trying again. Endurance is recognizing that failure lets you know what your limits are now — not what they will be later. Endurance is passion burning inside you to be more, to be better, to be an achiever.
You learn to endure by enduring.