As I fought through 1200's by myself on a dark, frozen track the other morning, I couldn't help but think how awesome it would be to have a team, a group, or even just another faster runner or two out there to help push (or pull) me along for track workouts.
I read blog posts by runners who get to train with runners who are faster than them, and by runners who have faster runners or bike pacers that join them for their intervals, long runs, and tempo runs. That would be amazing. It can be hard to train on your own all the time.
It's easy to look at your own situation and see the challenges. I have to train alone. I have to run crazy early in the morning to get it done because of our schedule and family. Icy roads force me to do quality workouts and runs on a treadmill for months each year (last year I had multiple 100 mile weeks on a treadmill). There is not a flat road to be found here. My stomach is a fickle thing. Whine, whine, whine.
But the more I think about it, the more I see the challenges to my training as blessings and strengths.
Yes, I would love to have others to train with. But on race day I will know how to pace myself and push myself, by myself.
Yes, I have to get up by 4:30am most days and run crazy early. I would love to run in the sunlight and get more sleep, but instead of complaining, I choose to see my early runs as a symbol of my discipline and commitment. Every morning I answer my own question of "How bad do you want it?" by getting up and getting it done, no excuses.
Yes, I get "stuck" on the treadmill for most of my runs for months each year. It would be incredible to live somewhere that I could run outside all year long, but I am grateful to have my treadmill as an option for safe, quality training in the winter, and I know that all those treadmill miles are building mental strength, which is an essential part of marathoning.
And as much as I would kill for a flat road once and awhile, I will run those dang hills, day in and day out, and will be tougher for it.
So I will take my challenges, I will embrace them, and I will turn them into strengths. I will be a better and stronger runner because of them.
Everyone has challenges to their running and training. Maybe it's a job, a busy family, school, a health issue, a hot and humid climate, a crazy cold climate, injuries, a new baby, an unsafe area, or a combination of challenges. We have the option of letting our challenges discourage us, knock us down, and prevent us from achieving the things we want to achieve, or tackling our challenges head on and using them to make us stronger, tougher, and better.
Much like most things related to running, this is also true in life. We all have our challenges in life - love, family, finances, employment, health, relationships, substance abuse, tragedy, loss, etc. We can allow the challenges that life deals us to knock us down, or find a way to use them to rise up and make ourselves stronger.
Turn your challenges into your strengths.
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." - Helen Keller
"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men." - John F. Kennedy
"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength." Arnold Schwarzenegger
What are your running "challenges"? How do you deal with them and overcome them?