It’s so easy to take a simple mile for granted. I can run for hours on end, so why should one little mile make any difference?
Yet there was a time where finishing one mile was enough to make me throw my fist in the air like Rocky. I’d done something that previously seemed beyond my reach and I wanted to celebrate. On the days when my running doesn't come so easily, that's the feeling I try to recall. Maybe it’s just a rough week from intense training in the Florida heat, maybe it’s my body telling me that something is wrong. Either way what happens next is always up to me.
Here’s how I learned to embrace each mile and how you can too.
At age 29, I found myself in an odd position. From all outward appearances a healthy, vibrant, marathon runner and yet there were days I couldn’t summon the energy to get out of bed, my stomach always hurt and my hair was falling out. I had my blood drawn for tests, was being sent off to get my brain scanned, and yet I was still coming home without results despite a lingering fatigue.
I pushed through my hot, humid Miami runs for a few years and each new doctors would marvel at how I was doing it. I couldn't explain, but I knew those miles were the only thing holding the shreds of my sanity together.
Finally, at age 32, we realized there were no true answers, but it appeared the result of whatever happened was menopause. Confused? I was too, so I ran.
It hasn’t been an easy road since then, but I find with each year I’m able to string together a few more months of training while feeling healthy because I’ve learned how to fuel both body and soul. When life or running — or both — seem to be more than you can take, here’s how to enjoy the mile you are in:
1. Embrace it.
I’ve never found a faster way to get through discomfort than to simply embrace every inch of it. The second I stop fighting, things begin falling in to place.
When we try to push through, everything feels hard. But the second you let go and just allow the run to be slower or harder, our brain seems to sigh and muscles relax, and suddenly you’ve gone further than you hoped.
2. Let it be a reminder.
Maybe embracing it didn’t help one bit, maybe the entire run sucked! What we all hate to acknowledge about a bad run is that it gives us an opportunity to truly appreciate those times where it feels like you could go for days without stopping and you can’t seem to wipe the grin from your face for hours after.
Thank your bad runs for being your best reminder. Allow them to wake you up to changes that need to happen with your nutrition or sleep or checking in with a doctor!
3. It’s just running.
Non-runners tend to throw out this nugget when we’re feeling down, and in our moments of frustration it’s very hard to hear. Running is more than sweat and calories; it’s a chance to get to know ourselves. But at the end of the day, a good run or a bad run doesn’t say anything about you or your training. A bad run doesn’t mean you’re on your way to a bad race.
Today as that frustration started to appear, I stopped and smiled. I was running.