After completing my 4th marathon earlier this fall, I decided to take a different approach to my post-race running routine. In the past, I’ve used completing a marathon as an excuse to do nothing —for months even. After the hard-press of training, I’ve poured that energy I expend running into other pursuits. This time, though, I decided I wanted to do my best to stay consistent. As a result, I raced a half-marathon in mid-November, then looked to continue to incorporate long runs weekly.
While running a half-marathon distance on Thanksgiving morning, I ran into a few friends who asked: “What are you training for?”
Nothing, I admitted, I just want to keep my fitness this time around.
Except the husband of a dear friend reached out last week to ask if I’d run a marathon Sunday with his wife on her 40th birthday. Had I followed my usual post-race routine, I’d have struggled to complete the marathon distance. I would have hedged, offered to run a few miles with her, or at the minimum I may have hesitated in my response. Knowing that I’d kept up my training, I could easily and happily say yes.
What was I training for? I didn’t know it during that chilly Thanksgiving morning run, but I was training so I could say yes to Sarah’s birthday marathon.
Preparation is a gift we give ourselves and others. When our training (be it mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual) allows us to show up with strength, we can do whatever is needed in any given moment. Quite often, doing whatever is needed is a blessing to those around us. But showing up requires preparation. Because I kept training, and didn’t stop, I could give Sarah the gift of my presence and stamina across 26.2 miles.
Even when we don’t know what we’re training for, our training is important. It’s easy to give up when you don’t have a specific goal or target. Here’s an idea: consider the value in training for the unexpected. Work hard at whatever you’re pursuing to be ready and available for whatever comes. You’re training for that opportunity you don’t know about yet, for that challenge you’ll face that’s just around the corner, or for the greatest adventure of your life.
Training creates courage and confidence. Toward the end of our marathon together, Sarah’s daughter said the most profound and encouraging words. She said that she wished more girls had moms like her mom and me, who are courageous and confident and create adventures. We train so that we can be the people we are meant to be and so we can live life fully, creating memorable adventures along the way.
Since the impromptu marathon Sunday, I’ve continued my plan to keep running. What am I training for now? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I know it will be great.