This year has been a heavy running year for me. Normally, I’m about a 5 mile per week runner. This year, I’ve already completed two half marathon distance races and 5 km race, with a couple more long races scheduled. A lot of training miles goes into completing every one of those races. When I’m actively in a training cycle, I’m averaging 10-15 miles per week. For the first time in over a decade of running, I stuck to a training plan. The results were pretty incredible. In March, I recorded my personal best 5 km time. Then, in April, I logged my second best time for a half marathon (only about 90 seconds off from my personal record). Most recently, I smashed my prior personal best in a 25 km race. Even better, I felt amazing afterwards. In four times completing that race, this was by far the best I’ve felt. All those training miles made a difference.
This banner year has led to some reflection about why I run. I was never a runner. During high school, my least favorite day was the one where we had to run the mile for presidential fitness testing. I stubbornly refused to run and insisted on walking the whole thing. It’s funny how time is different when you’re young–that mile seemed to last forever. Now I think of a mile run as so easy (“I can do anything for ten minutes”). As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to see running as such a gift. I’m not a fast runner and on my best days, I’m solidly middle of the pack. But, I’m incredibly grateful that I can run. Running feels almost miraculous in the way we can ask our bodies to perform.
Running makes me aware of the mind-body connection. During my first year of grad school, I ran consistently to maintain my sanity. Those runs were on the shorter side; usually 2-4 miles. But I would repeat the mantra “strong body strong mind.” Forcing my body to work, to stay healthy, definitely sustained those long days and nights of studying. Running clears my head and reminds me that willpower defeats physical discomfort.
But the real reason I run is because it is hard and it scares me. Whenever I set out for a run longer than 4 miles, I confront fear and self-doubt: can I do this? One of my favorite quotes, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson is: “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” There’s something powerful about conquering fear on a micro scale. During that long 15.5 mile race earlier this year, I conquered fear over and over again. When I crossed that finish line, I felt invincible. Running gives me courage to do other big things. It also shows me the value of consistent, hard work over time. A solid training cycle invariably yields a better race.
Those lessons translate into my work and into our mission to achieve financial independence. The years we’re in right now feel a lot like those early miles of a long race. It’s all about staying the course and getting to the next mile.