Endurance isn’t about crossing a finish line

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In 2008 I started training for my first marathon. About half way through my training I developed shin splints. I was discouraged but ran through the pain, hoping it would subside. Unfortunately, the pain didn’t go away and only became worse. It got to the point I couldn’t even walk. I reluctantly decided to stop training and not pursue the race.

At the time I became frustrated and hopeless. What was to be something I worked towards and looked forward to, became no longer a possibility. I didn’t let my discouragement keep me from doing anything at all though. I began incorporating different workouts.

In 2011, after the birth and first year of my little boy’s life, I decided to re-pursue marathon training. We had then moved to Kansas and it was summer. Mid-westerners know this means hot and humid. The one perk was there were miles of paved trails.

On my long distance days I would wake at four in the morning, to try to beat the sun and heat. I ran through beautiful lush scenery. The scenery was not the only change in my training though, my muscles had become stronger as well. 

During my first training my muscles were not able to endure long distances, causing my tibia bones to start taking the shock. During my second training I learned three fundamentals about muscle strength with running. These fundamentals can also be applied to enduring hard circumstances in life.

First- Take a break. Having a break provides time for recovery. Initially I was forced to stop running but then it was by choice. During my recovery my frustrations turned into realizations and I found clarity, not only in running, but with life. 

Second- Learn from experience and conditioning. My first training was unsuccessful but it provided my muscles exposure to long distance. Each experience, even failure, can be used for good.

Third- Find new methods to become stronger. Not being able to run provided me the opportunity to try new workouts like; HIIT, Tabata, and Yoga. These exercises made it possible for me to stay conditioned and, ultimately, increased my muscle strength. Strength is found through gaining knowledge and insight.

With increased strength it provided me the ability to successfully train for my first marathon. The training was rigorous and challenging. There were still moments of pain but my muscles were capable of enduring. Crossing the finish line of my first marathon was rewarding, but the greatest reward was the strength I gained during the training.

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Sorrow begets Joy

poulsen family pictures with I am Michelle Gifford Photography-16
photo: @iammichellegifford

It wasn’t too long ago I was experiencing disappointment after disappointment. In the midst of great sorrow, I was hit with a very strong impression to try for another baby. My first thought was, “that’s a sure way to throw me over the edge to insanity”. In fact, I was certain it would only cause me more misery. Guess what? It did . . . temporarily.

Why, when I chose to act on an impression, was I then given more anguish? Seems unfair, right?

It wasn’t unfair though. Hindsight, I actually received more than I gave. Sure, at the time I felt I couldn’t give anymore; I didn’t think I could physically be pushed any further. What I received were important life truths. The greatest truth being: when I give more than I think is even possible the reward becomes even that much greater.

Despite my miserable pregnancy, and still having many of those same disappointments present today, joy has been added to my life through Gracie. It’s not hard to see why, her smile is contagious.

Joy cannot be experienced without sorrow. Likewise, joy cannot be achieved alone. We are here on earth to help each other feel joy. Gracie came into my life when I needed her. She is just one of the many people who have fulfilled my needs and blessed my life with joy.

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