Most of us can recall a time we uttered those two terrible words that should be banned from every runner’s vocabulary – I can’t.
“I can’t run that far.”
“I can’t run that fast.”
“I don’t think I can do that.”
For me, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was sitting in a hotel ballroom on the eve of the 2008 Chicago Marathon attending a pre-race dinner for a work function. In between bites of rubbery pasta and dinner rolls that would make the Pillsbury Doughboy cringe, I discussed the power of running with a group of marathon runners and coaches who were in the Windy City to run the race. It was when they asked me about my own running that I said those infamous words.
Oh no, I can’t run a marathon.
I’ve always been a runner. Even a fairly speedy one for your “middle of the pack” athlete. In elementary school, I could beat all the boys in the mile. In middle school and high school, I often won my events at local track meets.
I was a daughter of an elite sprinter and collegiate cross country coach. I liked to play sports, and I thrived on feeling strong. But running more than six miles never really occurred to me.
At least not yet.
When that group of runners told me on that October evening that I could definitely run a marathon if I wanted to, I scoffed at the idea. It was as laughable as me winning a gold medal in speed skating or badminton at the Olympics (and yes, badminton is really an Olympic sport).
Until I did.
About two weeks after that dinner, I ran a 13K with my husband (8.07 miles) that I’d been training for (the word “training” is a loose term that would be up for interpretation by my current running self). It was the longest distance I had ever run. When I finished, I felt on top of the world.
Less than a year later, I joined a local running group to train for my first half marathon. Several weeks into the training, I decided I could run a marathon.
Funny how running turns “can’ts” into “cans.”
The rest, as they say, was history. More than six years later, I’ve run eight marathons and met my Boston Marathon qualifying standard. I’ve finished several half-Iron distance triathlons and run numerous half marathons, 10Ks, 5Ks, relay races and other events. I became a certified marathon coach and now work with runners to help them conquer what they once thought was impossible.
In 2010 and 2014, I returned to Chicago and honored those runners and coaches from that infamous pre-race dinner in 2008. You were correct, my friends. I can, I will and I did. Thank you for reminding me, even when I didn’t believe it, that anything is possible.
Running has changed everything.
There is not a day that goes by I’m not thankful for running. It’s not the act of logging the miles, of course. Running is so much more than “just running.”
The training, the personal growth, the courage to conquer goals, the discipline to make the right choices, the incredible people I’ve met, the inspiring running community, the power you feel when you finish something hard – all of these things have helped me redefine what is possible for myself.
Thank you running for teaching me that we are all stronger than we think and capable of doing more than we imagine we can do.
Read more about eight other reasons I’m thankful for running here.
Why are you thankful for running? What are the most meaningful things running has brought to your life?
About Jesica D’Avanza
Jesica D’Avanza is a runner, triathlete, marathon coach and the writer behind runladylike.com. On her Web site – appropriately named by combining the words “run” and “unladylike” – she shares her uncensored and unladylike adventures of running and triathlon training. Jesica lives in Tampa, Florida, and has completed eight marathons, nine half marathons and numerous triathlons, including two half iron distance races. She coaches runners of all abilities to train smarter, finish stronger and find their extraordinary. In her day job, she serves as vice president of marketing communications for the nation’s largest nonprofit health organization that fights neuromuscular diseases. You can find her on Twitter (@rUnladylike), Instagram (@runladylike) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/runladylike).