Every year since 2012, I’ve signed up for our city’s annual 10-mile race. It's my motivation to stay consistent in the gym and get in shape for the summer. Usually I train with a partner or run group, but this year, most of my runs were solo which was challenging for me. There are certain activities I only enjoy doing with others and long distance running is one of them.
Having to do it by myself, this year’s race was more than just a run; it was a life lesson. I had to complete it to prove to myself that I'm capable of making solo moves, and I gained some transferable takeaways along the way.
1. Embrace the solo moments. I started the race with my cousin, and when we separated at mile one, I had nine miles to go by myself. I could always do it by myself, but over the past few years, I lost sight of my ability and became dependent on outside motivation.
Sometimes my preference to do things with people turns into a debilitating need (in my business and personal life). I become obsessed with needing someone in order for me to fully enjoy or maximize the experience. RED FLAG! It’s nice to have other people around you, but needing them every step of the way is problematic. We are equipped with everything we need, and as we grow, we need to strengthen these areas within ourselves. Too often I want to tackle new experiences with other people, but if I’m going to walk in MY calling, I have to trust that I’m strong and equipped enough to do it. I have to embrace the solo moments, feel the fear, and do it anyway.
2. Focus on your path. For the first mile of the race, my cousin and I kept a comfortable pace and surprisingly passed tons of people. Around mile seven, the majority of people started passing me. My body was moving, but it wasn’t as fast as I would have liked. Going faster would have tired me out, and slowing down would have made me want to quit. I had to do what was best for me and not worry about who was passing or watching.
I thought about how often I spend my time looking at the progress of others. This too can become an obsession. The more I focus on who’s passing me, the more I feel like I’m running too slowly. Our journeys aren’t in competition. Everyone gets a medal for finishing. If I wanted to reach my goal, I had to do what worked for me, so if I needed to slow down in order to make it to the finish line, so be it. In our life journeys, we need to focus on the goal, and what we need to do to get there. It’s always toughest right before the victory, keep pushing.
3. Pad yourself with preparation and positivity. The night before the race, I finalized my playlist and added the perfect mix of upbeat songs like Cardi B.’s “Bodak Yellow” and gospel songs like Erica Campbell’s “A Little More Jesus.” During the second half of the race, both my training and music selections pulled me through. When I felt like I wouldn't make it, I reflected on my training and immersed myself in the gospel lyrics (which cued right on time).
In case my preparation and playlist weren’t enough, I bumped into numerous individuals before, during, and after the race whom I had met over the years and each one of them had supportive words. Because I've constantly surrounded myself with people in pursuit of purpose, goal-oriented people were all I could find on race day. I was padded with positive people, motivating music, and sufficient training. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally, I was ready for the race.
Our life journeys are individual experiences that require us to be the best versions of ourselves. It's important to connect with others along the way, but we must also give ourselves the space to grow individually. When will feel uneasy and nervous about what’s ahead, that’s an opportunity for growth. Trust your training, cater to your needs and run your race.