What Are You Training For?

As a runner it feels as though I am always training for something. It’s somewhat of a chicken-egg scenario… do I run so much because I am training for a race or do I race because I feel as though that’s what I need to do after putting in so many miles? I surmise it’s a little bit of both.

When runners first meet one another, one of the first questions asked is “what are you training for?” The funny thing is how perfectly willing we are to share our dreams and ambitions with these near perfect strangers when those who see us on a daily-basis (friends, family, colleagues) often do not know these nitty-gritty details of our running lives (or even know of these goals).

Right now when asked this question, I can’t help but laugh. My originally planned fall marathon happens to be the week of my due date (and despite my commitment to continue running through my pregnancy, I am not one who has any intention of training for a marathon while pregnant). So far, the answer has often come through others who are running along with me (“she’s preparing for birth” or “she’s preparing for being a mom”). Which has got me thinking… as runners, aren’t we always training for something more?

Running has trained me for my marriage. Running affords me an outlet for stress relief so that I don’t take *everything* out on my husband. It allows me time to reflect on the things, big and small, that are going on in our lives. It has taught me that not every day is going to be perfect or go as planned – but to keep moving forward because in the end it is always worth it. It has taught me the importance of encouragement (both as the encourager and the recipient). It has taught me the importance of working on my marriage the same way that I work on my training and that one cannot come at the expense of the other.

Running has trained me as an employee. Running has taught me to roll with the punches. It has taught me how to deal with difficult situations and has provided me an outlet when things get stressful at the office. Running helps me to release extra energy so that by the time I get to the office I can focus. It has taught me to break up seemingly daunting tasks into manageable portions. It has taught me to manage my anxiety and to handle my nerves about public speaking much in the same way that I handle my nerves before a race.

Running *is* training me to be a mother. It is keeping my body healthy and strong for the baby. It is teaching me to listen to my body, to its needs, and to the needs of the little life growing inside. Running is teaching me to live day by day and to be appreciative of what I can do, when I can do it. Running has introduced me to plenty of parents with children of all ages and has provided me a forum to exchange stories and to receive advice.

Running *is* training me for life. The lessons I have learned through running transcend the path. Dealing with setbacks, injury, uncertainty, nerves, triumphs has provided me with a foundation for addressing the surprises that life has thrown at me. It has taught me to be more flexible. It has taught me that even when things are going perfectly you may not get the end result you wanted and that even when things are going horribly everything may still end up okay (or better). It has taught me that all I can do is my best.

What has running trained you for? What are the most important lessons that you have learned?