This previous weekend I ran my first 10K and it meant so much to me in so many ways. I always find so many life lessons in nature and in fitness. For me, this 10K gave me some new lessons and I was pleasantly content with the outcome.
I have been a long distance runner all my life. When I was younger, I ran cross country and participated in the Junior Olympics when I was 9. There are 2 distinct memories I will never forget. How I felt after my very first practice, and how I was encourage to push as hard as possible that last half a mile of my Olympic race. Even until this day, when I feel tired while running, I make sure I push myself as hard as possible in the end. I realize that in life, there will be certain points in which you'll have more strength than others, but altogether, it's a mental thing, so you have to push.
See running is so synonymous with life to me because it's an individual sport. Team sports teach the importance of human interaction and working with others. Running teaches you about life and yourself.
I registered for my race back in July via a discount site and was excited because I put a 10K down on my vision board for the year. I just knew it would be simple because in the PAST I was used to running 5-10 miles very often. Well that's where the problem first lied. I was caught up in the past. No matter what your past is, it's not your present. Even though your past shapes or influences you, it does not define the entirety of who you are at this very. Yes, simply I've always ran long distance, so I consider myself a long distance runner, but I learned I was not the same runner I once was.
I did not prepare for this race as I could have because I was reliant on "my past". I kept saying, pshht that's going to be easy, and I didn't start conditioning until September. I'd been doing more high intensity interval training and plyometrics but hadn't done cardio in about 2months and boy o boy was I in for shock. The first time I ran, I could barely do 2 miles. It reminded me of that first practice when I was a child. Now, for some 2 miles is a challenge, but I was operating from a past perspective, in which 2miles used to be a warm up. My fastest mile last year was 5.7 minutes and my fastest 10K was 48 minutes. Even after that 1st run, I said to myself, no problem, I'll be fine after the first week. smh. I ran for 2-3 days per week after that. Never getting back to the point I used to be and learned that I had to be OK with that unless I was going to do more and train harder.
Fast forward, the day of the race, I was excited but boy was it difficult. Before the race I said that I shouldnt take more than an hour. I actually finished right at 1 hour and stopped for 4 mins because I was really hydrated. I was 26 out of 70 runners in my age division. While running, I remember seeing racers in their 60s-70s and I was so happy to see them out, but thought, come on Tiffany.
Sometimes I would catch myself looking at other people and would say, come on, you can beat her or him. You got this. Then my spiritual self would realize that was my ego and I would re center and literally say, " run your own race. BE proud of the presence and preparation others took. Stay focused on you." When I would get tired I'd speak declaration and affirm , " I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me" or "I will finish." This self talk process literally happened from start to finish. When I saw that 5mi mark, I pushed. I pushed so hard just like I did during my Junior Olympic race and when I crossed the finish line and saw my 1 hour time, I just said, thank you Lord and I'm proud of YOU Tiffany!
In the past, I would've beat myself up all day for stopping and finishing at 1 hour. In the past I would've been thinking more about what the other runners were doing as opposed to focusing on my breathe, how I felt, and the task at hand. In the past I would've put this first and trained much harder but this was not the past.
I learned to embrace my journey no matter what. Releasing any judgment of it being right or wrong, good or bad. I took responsibility for what I did and what I could have done better. In the end, I learned it's about my race. What I do along the way matters. The self love, acceptance and affirmation matters. Encouraging others while I struggle matters. Giving honor to the journey of others matters. Not judging others based on my understanding of the world, matters. BEING so secure in myself, my race, and my efforts, matters.
If you want more in life, you have to do more, sacrifice more, and believe bigger. What ever it is you do want or want to be, go after it. Some say go big or don't do it but I believe that just doing something is an accomplishment. You might not always be number 1, the greatest, the fastest , or the strongest in that competition, but you have to be enough for yourself. No matter what you do, it's more than the nothing another is doing, and it just may empower another to do a little something. So run your own race. Collect your own medals. Indulge in your own victory because life is not a sprint, it's a marathon, and as long as you finish with purpose, tenacity and love, you win!
Written by: Tiffany W.