“Remember, you paid for this!” and “This is worth much more than a free banana at the end!”
This past October my friend, Nicole, and I finished our second Crawlin’ Crab half marathon, and the above quotes are from two of my favorite motivational signs that we saw along the way.
If you’ve ever run a half marathon, you know the amount of effort that goes into each of those 13.1 miles. If you haven’t, well, imagine running and running and running for about two or two and a half hours. Sooner or later your muscles get tired; you’re thirsty, out of breath; your feet hurt; there’s a cramp in your side, but for some strange reason, you keep pressing on to the end. Maybe it’s that person you keep trying to catch or the beauty around you distracts you. Maybe you get lost in the thud, thud, thud of your feet hitting the pavement, the people cheering you on providing some extra motivation, or the adrenaline coursing through your body keeps you going strong.
Anyway, why do I (and so many others for that matter) subject our bodies to this torture? Well I can’t speak for everyone, but running (and half marathons) provides me with several physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits that it’s hard to resist.
For starters, runner’s high is a real thing. Running is one of my favorite stress-relieving activities, as I have the opportunity to literally “run” away from what’s bothering me. Somehow, things usually don’t seem as bad after a run, and I have new energy and fresh eyes to face them.
Running also gives me the chance to reflect. I’m often struck with a slightly new perspective on more complex topics or ideas. Running can teach me something new about myself or can help me understand the world better.
For example, I often express that one of the things I hate the most about waiting is not knowing how long I have to wait. I say that I just want to know when different events will happen in my life, and then I will be content to wait. But as I was running the half marathon, I realized that this statement isn’t quite true. By the time I had reached mile seven, I was tired. I just wanted to cross the finish line already, but I still had 6.1 miles to go. I realized that I was still impatient, even though I knew exactly what it would take and how long it would be to finish.
Likewise, with school, I know that there is just one more semester (yikes!) and X number of assignments standing between graduation and me. In some ways, knowing the amount makes it easier, but it will still require some dedication and hard work to finish.
Life is a race. It’s a pretty common metaphor (pace yourself, keep going, taking it in stride, finish strong, around the corner, etc.), but a useful one, in my opinion. The metaphor reminds me that life is not always easy, not always fun, and sometimes it seems darn near impossible, but I just have to take it one step at a time. And just as running is much more enjoyable with friends, life is a lot more fun (and manageable) in community.
So maybe I’m a little crazy for thinking that running is fun, and as this title suggests, perhaps I need to learn how to slow down a bit, but for the moment, running serves a good source of motivation and determination.
As long as I have good music. “Believe” by Yellowcard got me past mile seven and onto the eighth:
“Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.
Be strong. Believe.”