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Discomfort is only temporary!  These were the words that I said over and over in my mind after spontaneously deciding to run a half marathon this weekend.

I’m someone who gets inspired about fitness easily, which sometimes results in questionable decision-making. This instance all started while watching the Summer Olympics and in particular, the marathon event. I’ve ran numerous races in the past but due to COVID, relocation, and other priorities, have not taken part in a race for over 3 years. But there I was, getting into the thrill of it while watching the event unfold from the comfort of my living room. Fast forward 10 minutes and I was inserting my credit card number into the race registration form for a half marathon scheduled just 3 months later.

As I approached the halfway point in the race on Sunday and the legs began to feel heavy, I started to reflect on how inspiration leads to motivation but does not always result in the sustainability needed to perform our best. Despite all best intentions, my training ambitions slipped away – unwilling to give up my regular gym routine and finding it difficult to carve out more time for consistent runs. I was managing about 6 km feeling pretty good – not too much more for the entire 21.1 km, right? Apparently, my inner dialogue had other ideas and about 4 weeks before the race date, I decided I was going to forego the race and consider another ‘next year’.

But here I was, huffing and puffing at the 16th km mark and quickly losing interest in whatever song was up next on my playlist. What changed?  Well, a week before the race I was in a different city and there happened to be race the morning I was leaving. Coffee in hand while spectating, I began to get the ‘feels’ and wondered if it was a coincidence, I hadn’t officially cancelled out of the race I signed up for. That spark of inspiration, combined with a beautifully sunny forecast and encouragement from friends, had me lined up on Sunday morning ready to give it all that I could. I left any expectations behind and just decided to run for the sheer fun of it and the chance to once again cross the line with a great sense of achievement.

I finished the race. I might have even (mostly) enjoyed it. But, many lessons were in my thoughts that went through my mind throughout. ‘Discomfort is only temporary’ and pushing through when times become tough and challenging can develop mental toughness. However, with better planning and commitment, I probably would have enjoyed the run more, performed better, and achieved a greater sense of accomplishment.

As the discomfort in my legs slowly starts to dissipate, I’ve taken what I’ve learned and have begun planning and prioritizing tasks. I also recognize that sticking to something when the going gets tough helps to develop mental toughness and resilience. Will I sign up for another race? Almost certainly. But, this time I’ve promised myself I will spend much more than 10 minutes to consider the full commitment before whipping out my credit card making it official.