The half-marathon of life
"It's not as hard as it looks". Don't you hate to hear that? Typically this is always connected to something that you've tried multiple times to do or something that just seems impossible.
Yep, this might be that moment for you, but I promise from experience, "it's not as hard as it looks".
So long story short, I ran my first half marathon (13.10 miles). For me this was a massive accomplishment because even as a college athlete I had the belief that I would never be able to do more than 5 miles at once. On top of that, the furthest I had ever run, in effort of "training" for this, was 8 miles, and this was 3 days before the actual race. I had only "trained" for 2 months total and for 3 weeks of that I was out because I had a crazy allergic reaction and then was dealing with a leg injury. I'm telling you all of this just to show you that I had a few things stacked against me, and I'm probably in your shoes with a few things, including not being prepared. I never pictured myself running a marathon or anything of the type. But it was, a lot easier than I thought it would be.
For example, somehow the first 5 miles on race day were easy. Normally if I ran 5 miles I almost have to take 5 days off from exhaustion and body fatigue. At mile 8 which was my PR I noticed that my body physically started to get a little tired but all I had to do was focus on correct form and breathing. Essentially if I did everything I trained for I was fine at this point. At mile 11 I was hurting. This was the point where internal will had to kick in. Mentally I wanted to slow down or stop more, but I kept thinking to myself: "Leo, you've never run 11 miles before, but you have run 2 miles more times that you can count. Technically, this is the only part that you have trained for, so let's finish it out".
I thought back to all of the times that I had ran two miles on super hot days, super rainy days, and very recently on the dreaded treadmill all so that I could somehow cross the finish line. There were so many days where I forced myself to go run just at least a mile and a half, no matter how tired I was just to stay in routine and not get too far behind on building my endurance. At mile 11 mile my motivation was simply reminiscing on all the stupid faces I made struggling to complete just half a mile out of a 1 or 2 mile run. I had to coach myself through so many finish lines and this one had to have been the hardest, but most rewarding by far.
One of the most memorable things I learned from this race was that your physical training will only take you as far as you have prepared mentally. I saw other people who were probably more fit than I was, probably had trained for 6 months, etc struggle with crossing the finish line before me. I know it's not because I ran more miles than them or made sure I stayed up to date with my diet or Nike Run app. It was simply because throughout my life I have trained myself to run through way more mental finish lines than physical. My mental training was 10x further along than what I have ever done physically, and I personally think that will help me get through this finish line of life with a little more ease and resolve than some others.
Take it from me: you don't have to be the most skilled, most popular, outgoing, smartest, tallest, shortest, or any other adjective you chose in order to run this half marathon of life. Just gain a little perspective on what your personal race is and where you are. And take as much time as you can training yourself mentally. After all it's not as hard as it looks, if you train yourself mentally to run 100 miles when you only need 13, it'll be much more bearable. Daily go for the long haul, learn to push yourself harder than any other person or physical challenge can, and I promise life won't be as hard as it looks.
The "I could never", or "I couldn't imagine" statements will remain true until you show up. That's my challenge to you, if you have a bucket list item that seems impossible to you, I want you to just show up. I could've made all kinds of excuses why I didn't want to run the race, allergic reaction the week of, (all across my whole torso), I hadn't had the suggested amount of time to prep, I hadn't registered and it was sold out, (and if you know me at all, here is the biggest one) the high was 30 degrees (Man I hate the cold more than Satan himself).
Just mentally show up to the door of your dreams and see what happens. I promise you won't regret it. The mind is the strongest muscle we have, exercise it more than you do everything else and you'll be telling others, "It's not as hard as it looks".