I never thought of myself as a runner, until the day I decided to start doing it. Now, even though a torn ACL has kept me from running for about a decade, I still see myself as a runner.
I’ve already written a bit about how I trained for the Los Angeles Marathon, but I can’t begin to tell you just how hard those first days of running were for me. After only about a minute, I started to feel my lungs burning. Soon after that, I began to get a stitch in my side. Before too long, I was sure I was either going to lose my lunch or collapse and die.
I had a few moments when I wasn’t quite sure I could keep the commitment I had made to myself. Right at the outset, I had hit a roadblock on the path towards my big dream of running a marathon. I didn’t know how I was going to run 26.2 miles when I was struggling so much with Mile One!
Determination and Teamwork are the Key
Two things kept me going in those early days.
In order to maintain my determination, I drew upon my purpose for running. I focused on my mother, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It placed my own struggles in perspective. I thought about how I wanted to support her and stand with her by running. I remembered my commitment to her, and it gave me strength.
The other thing that helped me to persevere was the incredible support of the group I trained with. I was surrounded by others who had started out just as I had and slowly improved. They lifted me up, encouraged me and mentored me. They gave me tips to help push past my discomfort. But most of all, they gave me hope when I was struggling to believe that I was capable enough.
Don’t Go Alone When You Run Uphill
The biggest dreams require the hardest work. You may think you’re mentally prepared when you start.
But no one can anticipate all of the complications, obstacles and challenges that await. And those struggles feel so much bigger and more difficult when it feels like you are facing them alone.
All. By. Yourself.
Just thinking about going it alone can make a challenge feel harder. But for women and girls, that insight may hold the secret to our success.
A study published by UCLA psychologists in the journal of the American Psychological Association suggests that women respond to stress with a “tend-and-befriend” model, rather than the more familiar “fight-or-flight”. That is, we cultivate social support networks in order to respond to crisis and struggle. The study even points to some sound biochemical reasons why this might be true.
Another fascinating study entitled Generation STEM was recently published by the Girl Scouts of America. They conducted a national survey which found that girls who are interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) are more likely to see obstacles as something that made them stronger.
That study also revealed that girls who are interested in STEM are more likely to know someone in a STEM-related career. Even more intriguing: girls who like STEM are much more likely to know a woman in a STEM-related career.
Isn’t it remarkable that young women who felt that they had an identity within a supportive community–who felt that they had mentors within that community–also felt that their struggles gave them strength?
We are Never Alone
Sometimes I think about the most difficult moments in my life, the times I wanted to give up, the days I wasn’t sure how I’d continue. In each one of those moments, I can point to the two things that made the difference between quitting and overcoming.
A sense of purpose and a feeling of community.
Purpose and community helped me keep running when I felt like my lungs were going to drop out. It’s what helped keep me grounded when I was a new mother facing challenges and struggles. It’s the reason I’m still in business.
And it’s the reason that I’m so excited about what’s coming for Handcrafted Honey Bee–because we have refined our purpose and found a community with the potential to change the future.
I can’t wait to tell you more about it, so stay tuned in the coming weeks! If you’re super-curious, make sure that you sign up for our newsletter. Our email subscribers will be the first to know–and benefit–from everything that’s about to unfold!