Tales from 9 Runs: Mid-Run Update, Or How Others Help Inspire Me to Kick My Ass

It's still a week away from my next run, but I had a breakthrough I wanted to share.  Yesterday, I ran 8.2 miles, which is the farthest I've ever run.  I ran it in 1 hour, 21 minutes, 30 sections, which means I was (albeit slightly) under 10 minute miles.  It's not a record by any account, but that I was able to maintain (just under) 10 minute miles and that I finished the run feeling great has been a great upturn in what had previously been feeling like a slump.

So what got me over the hump?  Well, after last week's run, I felt I needed to up the ante.  So this week, I made sure to commit myself to 3 days of running.  I also made sure that it was substantial running, so I did 4.5 on Monday, 7.2 on Wednesday, and 8.2 on Friday.  I wasn't setting out to do 8.2 earlier in the week, but throughout Friday, I kept coming back to the idea.  By lunch, I had determined that, I would accomplish the goal.

Google map of the area that I ran.
The Route I Ran
But there's lots of goals I tell myself I'll accomplish and have yet to (many of you know, there's still several books I should have written by now).  It's not lying per se, but there's an element of "I've still got time" or as in the case I convince myself why I can't/shouldn't/won't do it this time.  "I've got to do X" or something along thsoe lines.  So, early in the day I committed to it, but I had committed myself to doing lots of things that I never do.  What made this different?  What helped me run farther than I’ve ever run before; what motivated me to continue on running for nearly 1.5 hours when I used to bitch and moan about running 5 minutes warm-ups in high school (no—it’s true, 2 laps around the ¼ mile track and I thought it was a punishment worthy of Dante’s Inferno)?

There’s lots of people I have to thank for all the things in my life, including the impetus to run.  That goes without saying.  But I feel with this particular run, there are 5 people who pushed me into the new zone.  It’s funny the way influence works, because indirect influence has a bigger influence on us than we might expect (as the authors of Connected).  The influence of others can be subtle, it can be fleeting, it can be something important to you and almost irrelevant to the influencer.  But sometimes, it’s just the thing that I need to hear and experience at that moment.

What Got Me to This?

So I want to give thanks to these specific influencers in helping me to achieve a breakthrough in my running.  I’m going to avoid naming them by name and refer to them mainly as how I’m related/connected to them.

The first is the running partner and an old friend (as in, we hung together at age 5 and 6 watching Casper the Friendly ghost).  We started running together a few weeks ago and his enthusiasm and good-spirited nature is highly valued as we make our way through a rigorous workout.  Additionally, he is faster than me, which pushes me harder but he tempers this with also not leaving me behind and adjusting to my speed.  To adjust your speed (in whatever context) to the slower person without asking or making a deal of it, is a very kind deed for sure.

The second is the husband of a friend of mine whom I’ve known since high school.  Over the course of Thursday and Friday, he started his own blog.  Needless to say, I have much in common with his challenges and appreciate seeing other adult larger-sized males putting themselves out there to talk about overcoming and conquering the elements of our size that are threats to our health.  It takes strength to display vulnerability as Brene Brown says in her excellent TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability."  So in seeing and empathizing with his struggles, it helped me push on with my run and my own health development.

My sister-in-law and my co-worker both did something that we largely say is frivolous and meaningless.  They posted and commented on me on Facebook.  My sister-in-law posted a comment that she saw me and my friend running the other day (our course takes us past her house) and offered words of encouragement.  On Friday at lunch, when I committed to the act of running 8.2 miles, I posted about it in a quick “oh boy, here we go.”  My coworker, a very kind person on any given day, just posted some words of encouragement too.  Nothing elaborate—just a “I know ya can do it.”  A simple comment but it still did the trick to keep me trekking.

Finally, a friend from high school who I’d been largely out of touch with for the last 12 or so years sent me a Facebook messsage.  Like so many others, we reconnected on Facebook and have occasionally chatted sense.  Over the course of Friday, she started a dialogue with me and several others asking if we’d want to join in as a team for a half-marathon in October.  In part she was asking for help and encouragement and I thought to myself—wow—how far I’ve come.  Next month (July), will mark the 1 year anniversary of when I started running against all forecasts and here I am being asked to join a running team and help others to build up their running.  Just the asking to join was enough to feel humbled and motivated.

So what carried me through the 8.2 mile trek?  My body.  But what was fuel for the mental endurance of the run, people.  People who were kind with their words, sincere in their endeavors, and generous in their thoughts.  And with that, I cross the half-way mark in my running.  I need but to add 7.3 over the next 12 weeks.  I look forward to it.

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  1. Thanks babe, your supporting Jared is an amazing gift.

  2. Thanks Erin, both you and Jared give me lots of food for thought, so it's only fair I return the favor...


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