How running challenges me

 

Breathe in. Breathe out. Feel your feet hitting the pavement. Once. Twice. Again and again. Breathe in. Feel your heart accelerating. Breathe out. Focus. Repeat.

This year, I believe it was around February, I have played in mind with the thought of trying to run my first half marathon this year. Even though I love running, I have only incorporated it in my fitness life occasionally here and there and never really challenged myself with running multiple times per week or running more than 8 km. 

Exactly half a year later I stopped just playing with the thought and have decided to really challenge myself and do it. So at the beginning of August I have applied to my first half marathon which will take place in Ljubljana, 30th of October. 

The thought of running 21 km was pretty scary to me and honestly seemed completely unreachable. At the same time I've figured it would really be nice to go for it and cover this milestone just few days after my 29th birthday. Show myself that I can always find new ways to challenge myself both mentally and physically. Push myself a bit more. Be stronger.

So to start things off I've decided to run 4 times a week. I've started with 5 km run on the first week of training. On my second week I've covered 8 km and by the end of the month 10 km. After having covered 10 km multiple times the thought of having to cover another 11 km to reach my goal seemed almost impossible and challenged me mentally. 

I took it day by day. I am not very fast, but I focused on running a little bit more or little bit faster each time I went for a run. Some days I have amazing will power and I enjoy every minute of running. Some days both my body and my mind want to give up. I specially appreciate those later, because even though I want to quit, I am stubborn enough to always continue. First 4-6 km are always the worst for me. I question my ability, my strength and my will power. But after those first 6 km are covered I get in my rhythm. Breathe in. Breathe out. Clear your mind. Breathe in. Breathe out. And after a while, I let my legs do the work for me. Breathe. Go on. Push it. You can. You really can.

A week ago I ran my longest distance so far. I ran my first 15 km. When I've covered 12 km and continued running I ran the next 3 with the biggest smile on my face. I realized I am really capable of doing it. Running the whole 21 km when the time will come. My whole focus was on those 3 words: I really can. This amazing feeling of adrenaline, happiness and pride filled every part of my soul and I just kept on going.

When I run, I am my worst enemy and my best friend. I am on my own and it will be as hard or as easy as I imagine it. If I say "I can't" my legs will become heavy, I will start catching my breath and think of giving up. But the reality is, it's all in my head. My legs will not fail me. They will keep going as long as I allow them. The biggest benefit is that I can run anywhere and anytime. Alone or with company. Even when I am travelling or am on vacation. You name it. So many possibilities to find what works for you.

Running is my time to clear my mind and to focus. It allows me to silence all the noise from the day and to just be. To breathe. To challenge myself. To push myself further. With every additional kilometer covered I see that I'm progressing. It takes time but my focus is on progress, not perfection - and that's why I keep lacing my sneakers and keep showing up.