By Michael J. Hynes
Let me begin by stating up front. I don’t like to run.
I’m not a natural runner and only started to become serious about it when I turned 50 a few years ago. To date, I’ve run three ultra-marathons. My first was 32 miles, my second was 44 miles and my last one was 105 miles.
When people hear I ran an ultra-marathon that was 105 miles, they ask me many questions. Many questions have to do with how long did it take? Did you sleep? How much did you eat and drink? And of course, the number one question…why would you ever want to do something like this?
Most people share they wouldn’t want to run that far (which I totally get) and most state they can only run a few miles or a half marathon. This is where I try and share that if I can do something like this, anyone can.
More important, it’s important to try hard things. Like most challenges in life that seem impossible, we place limits on ourselves or fall back to a default of “I can’t do this”.
When I signed up for the 105 ultra, I only wanted to finish the race. I didn’t care how long it took or what place I came in.
Unfortunately, during the race I sprained my ankle twice and to my surprise finished in 13th place in over 32 hours. I did not run fast nor did I have fancy equipment, but I did have a mission, which was to cross over the finish line at all costs.
Here is what I learned during this 105-mile odyssey:
- We can all do hard things and mindset is everything. Completing this race required me to shift my thinking that 105 miles is a very long way in a car, nevertheless a race. I chunked the race into much smaller races within a race. I can apply the same thing to life challenges. When something seems overwhelming and impossible, break it up into small chunks and tackle what you can at the moment.
- Being uncomfortable (both mentally and physically) makes you powerful. Not just physically but more important, mentally. You develop a superpower. I was in pain, had no sleep and ran in the woods through the night with a little headlamp on. You find out a lot about yourself under those conditions.
- There are good people in the world and to not judge a book by its cover. I met some of the most amazing people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Some people were in their late 60s and some looked like your average person, not like an elite athlete. Some of them blew right by me in the way to finishing in the top 10!
Finally, it teaches you about who you really are and what you are capable of. The adventure will push you further than you ever thought physically possible and further than you ever thought mentally possible.
I learned that when we stop at something, there are many more gears we are capable of shifting into. I now apply that to my work and projects outside of running. What a gift and hope you do the same.
This new year, push your envelope like you never have before, you won’t regret it. Happy New Year!