Posted by: David Stewart | October 24, 2012

It Takes a Special Kind of Courage

It takes a special courage to get going again when it’s so easy just to stop.

For example, to be a successful long-distance runner means you need to do a lot of long training runs. The conventional wisdom is to run a weekly longer run, piling up the miles. A marathon runner will want to string together a sequence of runs of up to 20 miles or more and do them every week.

This past Spring, I started breaking my long runs in half and pausing in the middle to refresh my water supply. This is because I need to make sure I have enough to drink, and I have found I simply can’t carry enough liquid with me to meet the needs of a 20 mile run.

So I followed the lead of my friend Eileen. I would park my car someplace and run for, say, a 10 mile loop and return to the car, refill my sports drink supply, and head out for another 10 miles.

The problem with this method is that after that first 10 mile run, the car looks really inviting. The idea of heading out again is really tough. Towards the end of that first loop, my mind is inventing every excuse imaginable for why I should stop this madness and rest.

You deserve it. You won’t miss the extra miles if it’s just this week. Your feet hurt. Your legs hurt. Your tummy hurts. Somehow getting started with that second loop is so much harder than starting the first loop. Somehow, I was always able to find a way to go again, but it took every ounce of courage I could muster to get out there.

So also with those who suffer depression. I’m fortunate that my running usually keeps me from falling into serious depression. But I know what it can feel like. Just getting up, getting out of bed, getting out the door, moving forward, starting the hard thing is just so impossible. It takes a special courage for someone really suffering to force themselves into a healthy pattern. I understand it.

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