It’s been just about three weeks since I ran my very first marathon…solo. Yes, I said solo. Just me.
I was scheduled to run with a group in The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon this past April, but then the coronavirus pandemic upset those plans, and I found myself shut in the house highly bothered about not being able to do it.
I was already three months into training, clocking over 100 miles per month, so to say I was disappointed when my race was postponed is an understatement.
Although I still possibly have a chance to complete it in November, I was still determined to do something now because of all the training I’d already put in.
So, on May 3rd, I completed all 26 miles by myself, with my husband and kids cheering me on. This was a major accomplishment! And a check off my bucket list.
More than 14 years ago, I started running. It became the catalyst for my continued healing and a coping mechanism for my mental health and sanity.
At first, I would run one lap around the track where we lived in Brooklyn, then I expanded to several laps over time.
Those were good days! I built up a defense for life using running as my escape. It’s the most exhilarating feeling of freedom and accomplishment getting a run in, and enjoying every minute of it.
I’ve been running ever since.
So many mental health benefits of running. Runner’s World recently posted an article on Running As a Unique Therapy, for depression and anxiety.
Fast forward to 2019, at the urging from a friend I jumped in and signed up for my first full marathon.
I was super excited to start training at the start of the new year 2020. I had so many plans to run races, do obstacle course races, and even the many fitness activities I had planned for my community.
Then COVID-19 came and basically knocked my socks off. Each day trying to get a sense of routine and normalcy is a task but running is so easy for me, lace up my sneakers, start my tracker, and hit the road.
There are so many things that training for my first full marathon has taught me especially during a crisis where the entire world has to practice self-isolation and social distancing.
Here are the 5 main things I’ve learned:
- In a crisis don’t you dare give up the thing that brings you joy. In fact, you should do more of it, especially if it’s within the parameters of the stay-at-home orders. I kept reminding myself that “this too shall pass” and running gave me the boost to take each day with calm grace.
- Fear will have you questioning yourself and your sanity, so it’s crucial that you allow yourself to sit with your fears. Most days, while training I would cry on my runs. The tears would just flow, and I know it was stress leaving me. Other days my anxiety levels were so high I had to practice my breathing techniques to lace up my sneakers. Each time I had to fight to choose to run because I knew how great it would make me feel afterward. In a crisis remember you can always choose another thought after you’re done processing whatever made you feel that way choose another thought.
- Running a full marathon is something that requires more mental strength than physical fitness. You have to be a bit to run for almost 5 hours, without much of a break. Developing my mental strength during training looked like this – listening to uplifting gospel music, an inspiring podcast, journaling, and reading before bedtime. I consumed material like “The power of the subconscious mind”. Some days if I didn’t get my mind right I’d feel like a log trying to roll out of bed. And living in northern New Jersey boonies, that means cold winter and spring-like mornings. What you fuel your mind with will take you to the finish line long before you start your race.
- Support and community are very important when training for anything. And to train for a marathon you need a team that’s going to help push you when you’re experiencing highs and lows. My running community comprises runner friends that often text me, my family, and a larger running community on Facebook. While they all play different roles in my training, I draw a lot of strength and determination from seeing other runners push through and accomplish their goals.
- If you think you can, YOU CAN!! This statement is the single most important of all the lessons. You see if at any time doubt started creeping into my mind I had to remember this “you can if you think you can”.
The first step to running your own race is to know and accept that it’s your race and no one else’s. No matter how fast or slow you go it’s your race and you get to choose if and when you will finish well.
Running, like any other sport can take a toll on your body if you don’t rest and recover well. I’ve recorded a special 10-minute Warm-up and Cool-down Routine for you whether you’re a runner or just want to get your body MOVING.