Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Race-tober: Tear Down the Walls

L to R: Runners competing in the 2011 Smuttynose Rockfest; us, after yesterday’s 2012 Rockfest, happy to be done running in the rain; and the finish corral, where everyone wants to be!

I was lying in bed last night contemplating the start of October and thinking about an article I had just read.  The article asked, “Why do you run?  Every runner should know the answer to this question.”  I thought about it for a minute, and my first answer was that running helped me lose 160 pounds and now it helps me keep from putting it back on.  It also helps me to stay balanced (read: sane).  Then I thought on it a little further.  Running helps me test my limits, both physically and mentally.  It helps me push myself further or faster than I thought I was capable, and this gives me courage.  If I can push past things that I thought were limits on the road or trail, then I can do it anywhere.

There’s a lot of truth in this metaphor.  I haven’t learned everything in life, but I’ve learned that many things that present themselves as barriers are false.  They can be broken through, overcome and defeated with the right level of effort and commitment.  It might hurt physically, emotionally or monetarily, but the possibility of breakthrough still exists.  Of course, there are tradeoffs.  There’s risk in testing limits and breaking down barriers.  If you’re not prepared for the challenge, you could get hurt, you could hurt someone else, you could fail…we’ve all been there.  It’s the race where you weren’t quite ready or the workout that went just a little too far.  These real and metaphorical injuries are opportunities to learn and adapt, chances to grow and improve.  Everyone knows the cliché, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because it’s true (most of the time).

But in life, just as in running, training and preparation are critical.  John L. Parker, author of Once a Runner, put it best when he said, “It’s like an iceberg.  So much of what makes up a runner is the preparation.”  The giant mass hidden beneath the water on race day is the training put in by each runner before arriving.  Training helps you learn what works and what doesn’t, helps you to prepare and rehearse so that when your big chance comes you know what to do to avoid getting stuck behind a wall and to avoid an injury.

So, I’m down to the last two weeks of an 18-week training plan before I set out to tackle 26.2 hilly miles on Mount Desert Island in Maine.  I will spend the next thirteen days eating well, resting, getting in my final runs and meditating on the fact that the inevitable walls I will face on the race course are surmountable.  If you’re out there, staring down a big challenge or change or barrier, remember that with the right training and preparation you can make it happen.  Just like a child, you won’t know your real limits from your false limits until you’ve tested them.  The building you live in doesn’t hold you, the people you work for don’t own you, the borders of your city, state or country don’t define you.  If you want something to be different, make it different.  Start training yourself, and when the moment is right, tear down the wall!

In closing, here are some inspirational quotes and links to help you through the tough times that come along with big change and long runs – M

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” – William James

“Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes

“Death tugs at my ear and says, ‘Live, I am coming.’” –Oliver Wendall Holmes

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.  Action has magic, grace and power in it.” – Goethe

MDI 2011 Recap:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8DuWPIx66ek (what I’ll be doing in two weeks!)

People doing inspirational fitness things:  www.takeachallenge.org

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