The strength of a runner comes from within. There are no external resources or shortcuts that will make your training easier or guarantee faster finishing times. Runners understand that easy running is really just a term for controlled effort, and that it only comes after hundreds or thousands of miles have passed beneath your feet.
I passed a young woman on my run yesterday. We were both beginning to run up a long hill. As I approached from behind, I could see that she was struggling. Her form was falling apart, and she was running from side to side, like a skier on moguls. Just as I was about to overtake her, she stopped. She quickly pulled out her iPod and furiously thumbed at the device.
She may have responded to an urgent text, but most likely she was disappointed that the music was failing to propel her up the hill. She was searching for the right song to get her back on track. I wanted to tell her to take out the headphones, and listen to the sounds of her breathing, heartbeat and footsteps. Your body has its own rhythm, and a runner learns to listen for it.
Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher, once said “Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.” Experienced runners understand the power that comes from within. It comes from training 12 months a year in every type of weather. It comes from racing and pushing yourself until there is nothing left. It comes from running beyond expectation only to discover that you can do more.
In today’s frenetic world of information overload, it is important to unplug and listen to your inner voice. Become a creator instead of a consumer, become active not passive, and find your true self. Discover your power and develop your will by suffering internal battles fought over long distances.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Anyone who has run a marathon knows exactly what those words mean. Indomitable will takes us from mile 20 to mile 26.
Keep calm and run on. You have the strength of a runner.