Every runner, if they run long enough, will need fortitude – physically or mentally. In fact, for most of us, it takes fortitude to start; let’s face it, running can be painful in the beginning. It can physically hurt, you may feel like your lungs will explode, you may be afraid that everyone is looking at you running and laughing.
And even though I promise you new runners it gets better, I can also tell you you will need to call on that fortitude again. As they say, running is hard; the hard is what makes it great.
Blackstone Valley Half Marathon, 2013. I needed my fortitude then. IT Band problems reared their ugly head as I started my taper. This was my fifth half marathon, but I still had so much to learn. I didn’t know what to do about the pain so I really didn’t do much.
I started my half on a beautiful day perfect for running & the first 6 miles went well. And then my knee started to tighten up. By mile 10 I was walking; it was too painful to run. I called my husband to tell I him I wouldn’t be making my time goal & could he please bring ice to the finish line?
I ran across the finish line, but I’d walked those last 3 miles (or limped) in a lot of pain. Looking back on it now, I know I should have DNF’d.
We drove to Cape Cod with our dogs, where we’d rented a house. My husband went to get a sundae – one of my favorite treats after a race – but you had to walk & I was in too much pain. I curled up on the couch with Chester, my little heating pad.
Little did I know even walking the dogs would still be painful for weeks afterward.
But I was signed up for USAFit already. I was able to run, but it seemed the knee pain always returned the last mile. Until I finally ran 7 miles pain free & I signed up for my next half. It took a lot of fortitude to do that. To believe I could run 13.1 miles again.
My fortitude was rewarded: I still think of Smuttynose as my comeback half. It was cold, it was windy, it was rainy – but it wasn’t painful & I was rewarded with a PR.
The good news about fortitude forged by running? It spills over into all areas of your life. You realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought you were. Trite – but true!
What is your running fortitude moment?