1. Expect more. You can do so much more than you think. I’ve learned that I enjoy pushing myself. I’ve learned that I’m not me if I don’t have some lofty goal that I’m chasing. Underestimating yourself does no one any favors. Own your ability, and always strive to expand your limits however possible, however slight the change may seem.
2. Just because it’s impossible now, does NOT mean it always will be. 9 months ago, running a half marathon was impossible. Now, I can sign up for any 5k, 10k, or half marathon at a moment’s notice, and run 15 miles without blinking. While a marathon may be impossible for the runner I am at this very moment, I know that with hard work and a few short weeks, what is now impossible will be inevitable.
3. Make your own training plan. My half marathon training plan was a jumble of Hal Higdon, Runner’s World, and my own machinations. My first attempt at the half marathon distance last year was unsuccessful for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I tried to follow a pre-set plan that just plain didn’t work for me. I came up with a plan of my own, taking into account my ability and the lessons I’d learned about my body. Throughout these 5 months, I also tinkered with it each week until it did work for me. If you’re new to running and don’t feel comfortable making your own, start with a pre-set plan or consult an experienced runner – you can learn what works and what doesn’t as you go.
4. Trust in it. Once you have a training plan, trust that it will get you there – why? Because it will. YOU made it, so trust that you know yourself and that you know how far you can stretch your limits. If you miss a run, remember that one run doesn’t make or break a training plan. Acknowledge it and move on to the next.
5. Every run counts… even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. Pushing through the bad runs is what it’s all about. Continuing when things are peachy keen is not a challenge; pushing through the difficult times is when you become stronger – a stronger runner, and a stronger person. Again, one run does not a marathon make, but every single time you take a step forward, it’s one step closer to your goal.
6. Run without distraction as often as possible. No watch, no iPod. I never run with an iPod anymore, because I’ve found that I run better without it, but I also try to run without a watch at least once a week. Pace is obviously a part of running, but so is taking the time to enjoy every moment. Since I started running, I take the time to enjoy so many more things in life.
7. The power of positive thinking is infinitely productive. Enough said.
8. Be grateful. Getting injured made me feel grateful for every single step I can run. Mine was by no means a serious injury, but it made me infinitely grateful for the ability to run at all. I’m thankful for every sunny, 60* day, and I’m thankful for every rainy day run, as I stomp my way through, puddle by puddle. I’m thankful for a warm breeze on my cheek, and a cool water fountain to quench my thirst. The little things, really.
9. I have so much more to learn. What I learned in the journey to 13.1 was immense, but I also feel like I learned just enough to realize that this is only the beginning. Every single run has something to teach me, and if finishing a half marathon is enlightening, then finishing twice that has lessons at least four-fold in store for me.