Oprah Winfrey once said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
I was never a cardio guy much less a runner. I didn’t understand why people would exercise by running when they can easily burn the same number of calories in less than 30 minutes at the gym. I can list all the reasons why you shouldn’t run — it’s bad for your joints. It’s repetitive and boring. It’s an inefficient exercise for fat loss. And apparently you need to learn a special stride for long-distance running. The list goes on.
It’s all the rage these days, running a marathon. Over 1.3 million completed a half-marathon in 2010 alone, a number that’s double from just a decade ago! Naturally I got curious and wanted to find out what all the fuss was about for myself.
Ever wanted to know what it takes to complete a marathon?
Step 1 – Choosing a race.
Well now we know I don’t like running. But if I was going to do this, I’m going to pick the best run in the Bay Area, at least one with an awesome view! I decided to register for the Big Sur half-marathon.
The course rides along Monterey Bay — one of the most scenic routes in the country — and like running along the Edge of the Western World. Sold!
Step 2 – Let the training begin.
The time commitment towards preparing for a race is probably the biggest challenge of this entire process. Luckily for me, I wasn’t bogged down by a full-time job.
I had 2 months. Two months of dragging my ass out the house and making a conscious effort to train at least 3 times a week.
The training wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. I had a myriad of issues from my arch-nemesis, shin splints, to my shoes. My new shoes fitted and recommended specifically for me after I was analyzed by a Specialist caused my outer leg muscles to freeze up. This is also known as anterior compartment syndrome in fancier, medical terms. Fancy or not, it hurt like sh*t!
I figured it be easier to blame the shoes rather than admit I might be running wrong. Come to find this is a common problem for beginner runners that train too much too soon. During my last practice run just 3 days before the race, my shin splints came back with a mean vengeance.
The question was whether I should even follow through with the race or risk serious injury trying to muscle through 13 miles. And to top it off, my health insurance expires 2 days before the race. My dedicated (or stubborn) side was telling me I did not get this far for nothing.
Or, maybe it was my stomach. Did I mention it’s recommended to carboload the day before the race? By far my favorite part of the training program and quite possibly the reason I stayed in the race. 😛
Step 3 – The morning of the run.
As if my shin splints weren’t enough, the weather forecasts rain the entire morning. My spirits were wearing thin.
Morning came and the race Gods have blessed the day with partially clear skies for the morning! Thousands of participants line up and the energy is vibrant despite it being a cold dark morning in Monterey. I took it slow for the first couple miles to warm up. After mile 3, my biggest fear crept up. The sharp shin splints returned. I stayed calm. Stretched for a minute, then kept on trucking.
My shin worries subsided over the course of the run. In fact, they felt like small peas when I passed a lady with an arm sling. Or the old man with a rolling walker; he was 80 years old. Or seeing all the army & marine service members cheering us on reminded of everything they went through to serve our country.
After getting that boost of inspiration, I saw myself getting across that finish line no matter what obstacles came in the way. The 13 mile course turned into a pleasant jog along the coastline in my mind.
Step 4 – Crossing the finish line!
That pivotal moment when you pass the mile 12 marker and realized you’re just a mere mile away. During this last mile, my feelings for running turned a 180 and I was truly enjoying it. A world of emotions, a sense of accomplishment and more importantly, an overwhelming feeling of relief to know the finish line is a few minutes away. Absolute, sheer joy when I made that last turn on the run.
I DID IT!
What this has taught me.
Races like many sports are really about pushing our body and mind beyond its limits. And as much as I hate running, I’ve always aspired to do something out of my comfort zone, something challenging and at times seem impossible to achieve.
Competing in a race is a metaphor to life. You’re going to have aspirations in life. There are always going to be tough situations or people that will make it difficult to get there, but you need to stay on course and don’t let it hold you back. It’s a rewarding feeling to be able to overcome such obstacles and I challenge you all to push your limits.. Hold no boundaries because the end result is worth the battle.
You’ll need some serious stamina to pull-through all the way to the finish line. Goals might seem really far out of reach, so build up your endurance and put in the work, sweat & dedication to achieve what you want out of your time on this wild planet.
So would I do it again? The day after the half-marathon, I could barely stand on my 2 feet, so my new found love for running was short-lived and turned back to hate. Thus the answer is probably not. I still don’t like to run.
“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.” ~ Priscilla Welch
This saying can really be applied to many aspects of life. If you want to be the best artist, teacher, salesman, parent or simply travel and see more of the world. So I say…
Start now, don’t waste your life by waiting for great things to happen. You have one life to live, so get off your butt and don’t let anything get in your way from being great.
The world truly is your oyster. Like Oprah said, you get out of life what you put into it.
Have you ran a long-distance race before? If so, what did you gain out of experience?
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