Over the years, running has always been a part of my exercise routine but it was in the 2nd grade that I first grew to love it. From milk runs, community fundraisers and even collecting popsicle sticks by running laps around the school for Kilometre Club, running was the purest form of competition that I was drawn to.
About a year and a half ago, spurred on by the desire to get back in shape and to work my way up to a full-marathon distance (42.2KM), I registered for the 2018 BMO Half-Marathon and decided that I would take training more seriously. I dedicated a few hours each week and consistently fell into a rhythm of running 1-2 times a week. Despite not having an incredibly structured training program, I noticed improvements solely from getting consistent kilometers under my belt. Little did I know, this would be the start of what I am certain will be a lifelong endeavor.
Fast-forward to the present; 7 Half-Marathons (21.1KM) and 1 Full-Marathon (42.2KM) later and here we are today. Over the last 1.5 years of training, I've learned to fall in love with the process. To stay consistent when the weather is bad, to endure when no one is looking and to simply be present in the moment and consider myself lucky to be able to move and hear the rhythmic pace of my feet to the asphalt. I've discovered what I am capable of even when I am pushed to my limit and I've discovered a sense of endurance and direction that acts as a scaffold for other pursuits.
In Angela Duckworth's novel GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverence, she says: “...there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine....you've got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people....Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it...it's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”
Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you're willing to stay loyal to it...it's doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”
I've long felt that I was not born naturally gifted or talented in any particular skill, sport or even area of academia. But at the same time, I have always known myself to be a hard worker, almost stubbornly so. And while it used to upset me when I was challenged to the point of failure, I now appreciate and thrive in those moments because it gives me the opportunity to dig down into an attribute I've loved exploring.
So when you're faced with seemingly insurmountable hurdles, dig deep. When no one is looking and you could easily pause, don't. Find comfort in being in the present, embrace the gritty situations, learn to love gasping for air and breathing hard. Find joy in going the distance.