How Training For a Half Marathon Changed My Mindset

I'd always been a reasonably fit person. I played soccer through college and lived an active lifestyle after that. My husband and I enjoyed bike riding, kayaking, jogging, and staying healthy. But after having kids, my body turned to mush. I was out of shape and gasped while trotting up the stairs or even attempting to get back on my bike. So after my youngest turned 1 year old, I finally decided to start working out again. Only, after a few short months, I still wasn't satisfied. Although I was back into decent shape, I missed being competitive against others and within myself. After talking to my friend, she suggested, "Why don't we train for a half marathon?"

I stared at her blankly. She knew that running was the one form of exercise I despised. To be honest, I was scared of the failure. I didn't think I could finish all 13 miles of a half marathon. In the past, I'd joke that I'd run if someone was chasing after me or toward the clearance rack, but for enjoyment? No. Yet she persisted. "Come on, it won't be that bad and we can do it together." I gave in. We signed up for our first 5k. The entire race seemed to go uphill and I gasped for air the entire run. I thought I was dying. My mind was not conquering the pain that my body was in.

After that race, we signed up for two more 5Ks and a 10K. I never thought I'd be able to run over six miles. I used to think someone needed to keep 911 on their speed dial when I tried. But after the second 5K, which wasn't that bad, I started to increase my mileage with each run. I'd add only a half mile or so each time, but I did it. I put the ear buds in my ear and blasted "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, "This Girl Is on Fire" by Alicia Keys, and more. It became easier for my mentality to push through those hard miles. I'd blaze through my quiet trail with my adrenaline running through me. Finally, I realized . . . I could do it.

And I did. My friend and I managed to finish that 10K thanks to our "mind over matter" mindsets. I finished fifth in my age group, which is no great feat, but to me it was. It felt good to know that my mind could push my body to accomplish something new, conquer any old fears, and kick ass like I used to when I was younger. A couple months later, we finished our goal — we crossed the finish line of that half marathon. During the last mile of that race, I had to run up a steep hill. Anger ran through me and my legs turned to pudding. I wanted desperately to stop. But my mind told me to run, so I did. There were several other times during that race when I thought I had hit the wall, but my mind thought otherwise. I kept going despite the pain that my body was in.

After the half marathon, I've used what I learned in all aspects of my life. I let my mind conquer my body or any other uncertainties I may be having. If I'm feeling doubtful about my writing, for example, I work harder and then submit to the big publications. I have nothing to lose, after all. If I feel nervous about attempting a new kind of workout, I just remember that I have already pushed through a half marathon and that I can do anything. I'm grateful that my friend suggested running that half marathon because now I know that my body and mind are capable of so much more. And it's great that I get to live my life with no limitations!