“The only way to cultivate endurance is by enduring.”
What I need more than anything right now is endurance.
Paige and I are at the apex of our Boston training, doing our 30+ km long runs, so I need to build endurance for my marathon training. But I need to build it in other areas of my life, too.
I need endurance in my parenting. Three teenagers will definitely put a parent through the wringer. I need the endurance to move through a rough patch or a difficult circumstance and get up the next day and be fresh enough to go at it again.
I can’t afford to get sloppy, unfocused or worn out. My kids need (and deserve) to have a mom who is all in. These years are not easy. It helps to understand pacing. It helps to know that I have more in me than I think I have.
I know this about myself because I have felt myself push through the wall at the 33rd kilometre and make it to the finish line even though everything in me was cramping and sputtering and I was running on fumes. When I whisper to myself, “C’mon girl, you’ve got this” I have plenty of history with myself to actually believe it.
I also need endurance in my relationship with my boyfriend. When things get complicated, everything in me wants to turn inward and close off.
My training teaches me that I can keep going even when I feel like quitting. Running long distances teaches me to acknowledge and accept that there are simply kilometres that feel longer and more painful than others. I have less fear when I remember that I have pushed through hard kilometres before and they don’t last forever.
Hard kilometres are not indicative of an inability to make it to the finish line. They are just hard kilometres. They require the strength and experience that has been built into the fiber of a runner’s being, the muscle memory and the heart. They require deep breathing and focus.
You find your grit on a rough day, and on a good day you can experience transcendence. As they say, pain is weakness leaving the body.
Because I train, I can look squarely at an imposing hill, steel my will, pull my cap down, and start putting one foot in front of the other until I reach the other side.
Finally, I need endurance in my relationships with friends. When they have a burden to carry, I want the fortitude to bear a portion of it. When they are weak, I want to offer my strength. When their pace is off, I want to offer my steadiness beside them.
On my burdened, weak and unsteady days, I will humbly and happily receive the energy and stamina they offer me. They deserve a wingman who will show up at the appointed time and can complete the necessary distance. They need to know that when things are too much, that does not mean that it is (or she is) too much for me – I can and will hang in there.
I will not be intimidated by hills. I am here for the duration of the journey. I celebrate starting lines as much as finish lines. A good wingman is easy to find, because they are usually right beside you. These relationships are not to be trifled with. They are the earned gift of kilometres of sweat, understanding, commitment and the pain of collaborative suffering and compounded joy.
The only way to cultivate endurance is by enduring. Much like the only way to be loved is by loving.
We have to practice that which we wish to become.