OK, I think Amby might be exaggerating just a little bit. I don’t know that everything else will be easy. Childbirth, for example, is not easy, no matter whether you are a runner or not. Although as a man, Amby never gave birth to a child, so he wouldn’t know. Maybe a more accurate quote would be “everything else will be easier.” That doesn’t flow quite as well as the original. Anyway, point well taken, Amby.
Running can give you the confidence to do difficult things. I know I have survived miles that were less than pleasant. My experiences as a runner have taught me that I can keep going even when I feel like quitting. The trick is to be able to detach from the situation and learn to let go.
As somewhat of a control freak, it is not easy to let go. I think I must be in charge of every situation. I sometimes need to talk myself off the ledge and acknowledge that I must step back to see how things play out, rather than trying to exert my influence on everything around me all the time. The only thing I can control is me (and sometimes even that is a stretch). Trying to control everything is exhausting, believe me, I know. When I remind myself to let go, I can almost feel my cortisol (stress hormone) levels decreasing. How many times did my mom council me “Be patient“?
Last year a friend asked me to run Comrades Marathon in South Africa with her. Comrades is an interesting race. Some marathon runners (myself included) get impatient when a non-runner askes them how long a particular marathon is. One of my running friends rants “It’s 26.2 miles! Every marathon is 26.2 miles!!!” But not Comrades. Comrades is approximately 56 miles, more than twice the length of a typical marathon.
As if the length of the race is not daunting enough, there is also a time limit. You must pass various checkpoints in a specified amount of time, or your race is over. You must be able to finish the entire race in 12 hours. A person with a horn stands at these checkpoints with his back to the runners so he is not influenced by runners he may see approaching him. At the prescribed time he blows the horn. Every runner who has not passed him is done. They must ride a shuttle to the finish line.
I declined the invitation mostly because I was afraid I couldn’t finish the race in 12 hours. I denied myself the possibility of even trying to accomplish that goal. I allowed my belief to limit me, to define who I am. If I think “I can’t do it“, I am right. Fear closes the doors to interesting and exciting possibilities.
Part of being able to let go is having the confidence that everything will be alright if you do, regardless of the outcome. I also have to acknowledge that I don’t always know what is best for me. Facing fears and overcoming difficult situations builds confidence. If I try to run the race and succeed, I have faced my fear and am proud of my accomplishment. If I try to run the race and fail to finish, I have faced my fear and am still proud of myself for attempting a challenging race. If I don’t even try, I am left to second guess my decision and regret a missed opportunity.
My friend did not finish Comrades. She missed the cutoff time at the mile 42 checkpoint by 30 seconds. She still had an adventure, a wonderful experience, and a fantastic vacation in an exotic location. She has every reason to be proud of herself, and I believe she is. Undaunted, she is considering doing the race again two years from now. If she asks again if I want to go with her, I will have my answer ready.
Tell me, what challenge is out there calling to you? What is that one crazy, scary thing that you just can’t put out of your mind? What would happen if you tried it and failed? What are you afraid of?
I am linking up with Patty, Erika, and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run. Love these running-related blogs! I am linking up with Shank You Very Much for her Dream Team link up. I am also linking up with Nicole and Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday. I am joining Running on Happy, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs for the Coaches’ Corner linkup! I am linking with Random-osity for Little Things Thursdays link up. I am linking up with It’s a Small Town Life for Thankful Thursday. I am linking up with Anna Nuttall for her Bloggers Link Up. I am linking up with Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well. If you like this post, you may want to visit to read what other bloggers have to say! I am linking up with Jamie Sumner for Sunday Thoughts. Visit here for faith-based posts from many other bloggers.