Today’s Reason: Endurance

As a runner, whenever I hear the word “endurance” I think in terms of miles (don’t we all?). Having successfully recovered from this year’s injury and now training for my one and only road half marathon of the year, I know that it will take time for me to re-build that mileage endurance. While I really want to hit the road (and the trails) and run all the miles every day of the week, I know I can’t as too much running too soon will result in injury- endurance, in this way, truly goes hand-in-hand with patience and good judgement.

Strangely enough, that’s the easy part of running. With 10 years of running experience and 3 running related-injuries under my water belt, I know to simply follow my training plan and plan those rest days accordingly in order to get to race day healthy and ready for that 13.1 mile endurance test. I’ve done it before, I can do it again, and I can certainly endure the time and work it takes to get back to a comfortable and happy 13.1.

By definition, endurance means two different things, first, “the fact or power of bearing pain or hardships” and second, “the ability or strength to continue or last despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions”. Fits the application of running perfectly, yet those definitions imply a negativity therein- “pain”, “hardships”, “adversity” are all true to certain extent; however, I am happy to embrace all that, no matter how difficult, in order to find achievement and success beyond- not just with running, but with all that surrounds it too…

Following a training plan and re-building the mileage base, all easy for me, not much to truly endure there but enduring myself, that’s another story… anyone reading this is probably well aware of what it’s like to recover from an injury then start running again- it’s freaking HARD. I had 8 months off, couldn’t even walk for most of that time, and when I finally healed and was able to get back to my normal work-out routine, I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do or what was “normal” anymore! Maybe this last injury scared me too much, maybe I’m too worried about getting hurt again, maybe I’m too concerned with the difficulty level of getting back to where I was pre-injury.

I read once that if you love running, you learn to love the injuries too. Yeah, I don’t think so. If you love running, you learn to love all that goes with it, sure, but I certainly abhor injuries and the way they turn me into a self-centered, depressed, monster of a human. “Embrace the time off!”; “Just rest and you’ll be back before you know it!”; “You know, swimming is great exercise too!” they all say. Mmmmmm… no. Injury has taught me that this body needs/wants/yearns to run. Getting back to it, though, I am slower, my stamina is significantly decreased, my strength has diminished and that really effects my thoughts yet I must keep reminding myself to endure past all that negative self-talk. Be patient with myself and my work will pay off, my endurance will be rewarded with the next finish line.

Injured or not, beginning a running routine is also HARD. I have heard this so many times from runner friends and my Team in Training mentees- you think, “Let’s start this off with three little miles, no problem!” then you hit the road feeling heavy, slow, and clumsy- that’s me right now. Yet, just as I began in 2006, I know that while I may feel like lumbering, 2 ton elephant at the moment, it will get easier- the more you endure your thoughts and emotions, the body follows suit and the easier it gets, and the better you get at reminding yourself of how far (literally and emotionally) you’ve come. It just takes time, patience and, yes, endurance.

I’ve asked myself several times over the years, “Run to blog, blog to run- what comes first?” and I honestly don’t know anymore! I have been writing Running4theReason for over 5 years now and, to be totally truthful, it is certainly difficult to come up with new, creative, visually stimulating posts for every single run or workout I do! This blog is another version of endurance for me in terms of my writing-about-running and if you’ve read for any length of time you may notice I’ve been slacking off… when I penned my very first post ever, I told myself that posting 3 times a week would be a good goal.  That quickly dwindled to 2 times a week, then after a few years I figured once a week was sufficient and now? “I posted once this month, that’s just fine.” WOW. I think my writing endurance has suffered more than anything!

Yet writing, just like running, is a discipline that requires endurance and again, just like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. It is easy to come up with a plan for running and it should be just as easy for writing, so I am working on that at the same time. I built this blog from zero 5 years ago and I can build it again by virtue of endurance- keep writing and keep running, even if it is hard and even if I don’t want to do it because I want to be successful, I want to be proud of myself, and I want to prove that I can endure anything I set my mind to.

The physical and mental aspects of endurance are the true challenges therein. The body, the heart and the mind are muscles and muscles can be strengthened over time- letting go of the past, focusing on today, setting goals and planning for the future is, to me, the core of endurance- in running, in writing and in life.

What do you think?