For those of you who read regularly you’ll know I completed a half marathon last Sunday. When I say it was one of the hardest ones I’ve ever done, I’m not lying nor am I exagerating. I honestly cannot fathom how I continued running until I crossed the finish line. For those who are athletes in any kind of long-distance events (such as marathons, halves, triathlons, etc), or even if you arent, I think that we can all appreciate it’s a matter of mental grit to keep going and keep pushing yourself…
As I was running that day, I was searching in the moment to find something that this endurance test could teach me – mainly to try and keep my mind off the mental and physical strain I was experiencing at the time.
As I ran, I realised that it was pretty much like life itself. (Bear with me here – you all know by now these things come to me in the most unconventional ways…) Each of us at that event were on our own journey. We were all running alongside each other but each of us were experiencing our own mental barriers, our own physical strain, and our own doubts or self-belief. It was a shared experience but, ultimately, it was our own. There were crowds of strangers cheering us on as best they could, shouting encouragements, and clapping their hands. They turned out to watch out of curiosity but, also, to try and share in some of the magic of what was going on. (Trust me, it is fucking magical what we accomplish!) Some of them were friends and family who held signs for the people they knew whilst others held out tubs of Haribo to try and provide some energy for us who were lagging.
Likewise, in life, we’re all on our own journey. Sure, we might have a few people cheering us on or we might be luckier to have someone running aloingside us the whole time…But you’re crossing that finishing line yourself. You are in this for yourself, by yourself, having your own experience of life that people may be able to relate to but will never experience for themselves.
Throughout the half marathon, I started thinking how great it would be to have someone I knew yell my name and encourage me to get a fucking move on. However, there wasn’t anyone at that point (until I reached the finish line anyway!) and I ran the whole 13.1 miles by myself…
And that’s just it. I was alone. By myself. Throughout the hard parts, the ‘easy’ parts, through the uphill climbs and the downhill descents…It was just me, myself, and I. That’s why it was so fucking important for me to cheer my damn self on. I had to become my biggest believer, my biggest confidence boost, and my own unwavering support. At one point, no word of a lie, I was chanting “come on, come on, come on, I fucking got this. Come on!” to myself because, if I didn’t, I would’ve stopped.
It sounds bizarre because we live in a world that is mainly self-depreciating, tells us we are not enough via advertising and other avenues, and tends to beat us down rather than raise us up. Nothing was ever accomplished through telling ourselves we are not enough, through reminding ourselves of our constant flaws, or through punishing ourselves continuously.
The half-marathon was punishing enough so why the hell would I want to add to that by talking myself down by reminding myself of how shit I felt, or how shit I was, or how I could be trying harder.
As with life.
We go through some really fucked up shit sometimes and, as Winston Churchill famously said, “if you’re going through hell, keep going.” There comes a point when we’re half way through the bullshit and we’re at the furthest point – if we backtrack, turn around, and wimp out, we still have over six miles to walk. Just keep going. You’ve got this…
Eventually, you realise that you’re not in competition with anyone else. It’s not about doing things in a record time. It’s not about being better than everyone. It’s just about finishing and putting one foot in front of the other. It’s the journey itself and what it can teach you. It’s that fact that you are fucking doing it and you’re going to make it through. You might not remember how. You might not have a reason why. But you keep going. You keep pushing. Through the discomfort, through the pain, acknowledgeing it but keeping on pressing forward anyway. That’s courage. That’s persistence. That’s discipline. These things we aspire for so much but, man oh man, they are not comfortable. We don’t feel like the heroes when we are in this much agony…
But, eventually, you get there. You cross the finish line. Cry. Laugh. Shout with joy. Who gives a flying fuck what you do because you made it.
And you do it every damn day.
Never forget that.