I used to look at running as the worst and hardest thing that I’ve ever done, then one day I decided to sign up for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon out of the blue. I’m the type of person who never gives up and when I make a commitment to something, I am always going to follow through. I had never run long distances, except for when I was at soccer practice in high school or throwing a lacrosse ball around with my teammates, but anything over 3 miles was incomprehensible to me. I had six months to train and during the first two I’ll admit that I was lazy and only ran about two times a week, never running the full course and sometimes just skipping altogether. However, I realized that as the days passed that this was serious and I wasn’t going to back out on this commitment and most of all, I wasn’t going to back out on myself. I’m not the most athletic or in shape person, I’m not the skinniest or most fit person either, but I know myself as an individual and I know how incredibly determined I am. A challenge is like a diamond ring to me and every new goal I set gets my blood pumping.
The four months before the race I trained four days a week with an extra day for whatever other type of exercise I wanted to participate in and I made it to eleven miles before race day. No, I didn’t run the full distance before the actual race, but I was pretty damn proud of myself because I had gone from not running for years to running 13.1 miles. The day of the race was somewhat brutal, having to wake up at 3AM and finishing before any of the Disney parks opened at 9:30, but I was so excited and pumped that I didn’t care how early or how cold it was when the fireworks shot off for me to begin running. I kept a somewhat slow pace throughout the entire run, but I ran the whole way and that’s all I wanted to do. I was able to finish in under three hours when I ultimately thought it would take me the whole four and I was able to sprint the last mile into the finish line. When I received my medal I had never felt that accomplished in my life, because physically being able to work so hard and perform even better than I had wished for was a present in itself. When I finished I felt like I needed to pick up and start all over again: run the entire 13.1 miles in total twice, because I now had nothing to train for. Training for a half-marathon taught me so much and running it in its entirety taught me even more, but I’ve decided to cut it down to just seven life lessons that I was able to take away from running the full 13.1 miles.
1. You have to pace yourself (in life)
I learned that it’s better to pace yourself than to try to sprint to the finish line and wind up having to take a breather only 2 miles in. Everything is so fast paced and immediate in life now that no one knows the meaning of patience or perseverance and I was able to learn both of these through training and running.
2. You can never give up
It’s easy to give up, especially when exerting physical energy. Sometimes it actually hurts to keep running and to keep pushing yourself, but in order to improve you have to go the extra mile (both literally and metaphorically). It’s so much more convenient to just give up, but nothing will be learned or attained through doing so.
3. Sometimes it’s really hard
Obviously, sometimes running (and really anything) is REALLY hard. There are going to be days when you don’t want to exercise or your feet are going to hurt like hell or you just don’t want to do it because of excuse A, B and C. Excuses will always be there and distractions will always be there, but just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. The hardest things in life are often the most rewarding.
4. You have to have perserverance
In order to tell yourself to get through 13.1 miles you have to look at the end goal and you have to remember why you are doing it. Having faith in yourself, being dedicated and determined and always persevering despite the odds are all lessons that you will learn from preparing for and ultimately participating in a half-marathon.
5. Exercise makes you exponentially happier (it’s scientifically proven)
Even though it may take a lot to physically get yourself to the gym or to go on that run, exercising makes you a healthier and happier person. You scientifically exert dopamine which aids in relieving stress and makes you have a better mood once you are done. You will feel so much more refreshed after going on a run than if you were to just lay in bed moping about your homework.
6. It’s all about the mindset you have
Running exerts a lot of physical energy, but it is also about the power of your mind. You have to have a positive outlook and remember that you can finish. If you keep a positive attitude, look at the end goal and tell yourself to keep pushing, you will have no problem at all. Any exercise or task is about the confidence and outlook that you have going into it.
7. You can do LITERALLY ANYTHING
I discovered that through training for a half-marathon without having any running experience beforehand that I can accomplish any goal I set my mind to. If you can physically tell yourself to get out every day and train and exercise, what is there that you can’t do in life?
All in all, through running the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I learned a number of things; all of which I am going to take away with me for the rest of my life. As I prepare for my next race in the coming week I hope that those of you who read this article will consider getting out and getting active so that you, too can relieve the stress, anxiety and worry that is so constant in the day to day lives of our generation.