I was running last night, and did 6 miles. That’s an average run for me these days – 6-8 miles. It wasn’t always that way, don’t get me wrong, but it is what it is, and don’t think for one second that you couldn’t get to that point, too. But that’s not what I’m here to discuss right now. I’m hear to discuss the magic of 3 – 3 miles that is.
I’ve thought about it before – even before I started running long distances. When i was in the early stages of running, I found that getting to 3 miles was extremely difficult. However, one day, I crossed the 3 mile threshold and something changed – training became easier. Ramping up my mileage was suddenly no longer a daunting task, and running was no longer painful – it became fun, exhilirating and even made me happy.
But not for the first 3 miles. For some reason, on every run, the first 3 miles are ALWAYS the hardest. It goes a little something like this:
Mile 1: Awww yeah! I’m gonna rock this run!! Feels like i’m walking on air!
Mile 1.5: Gee, my shins and ankles kinda hurt. And I feel tired. Should I stop?
Mile 2: WTF is wrong with me? Why am I doing this again? My legs feel like lead, and I can’t think of anything other than the pain of every step.
Mile 2.5: GOOD GOD, I’m torturing myself. What for? I hate running!! I’m gonna stop…I can’t take it anymore!!!
Then, just when i’m about to give in, suddenly there’s….
Mile 3: Hello world! I love this life and can go for miles! What’s pain again? Let the real run begin! And the rest is smooth sailing.
Last night, this hit me extra hard. I haven’t done much running since the Broad Street Run a week and a half ago, so this was my big return to running. Those first 3 miles were almost unbearable. I thought about giving up more than a few times. But I knew that if I kept going, I’d get through it, and come out stronger on the other side.
And so I did. But I realized something else as well. I’ve learned so much from running – it’s been a mirror for what’s going on in the rest of my life, and has taught me how to deal with and get through some dark and difficult days. Last night, I learned that there are situations in my life that I’m almost through – that I keep getting close to out-running – yet I just can’t seem to cross the threshold, and I wind up surrendering to the pain. Each time, I do get a little closer though. Even so, I wind up beating myself up over it – because I gave in – again. But then I remember back to before I reached that 3 mile mark for the first time – I did not know I’d be ok on the other side, and the fear of the unknown was what made it so difficult to keep going. Now that I know, I can handle the pain, and run through it. Not knowing what’s on the other side is my biggest fear. It took time to build up the strengh to run through those first 3 miles. I gave up many times. But eventually, after trying over and over and over and over, I finally did it. And there’s no turning back now.
What I’m learning is that It’s ok if you don’t cross the 3 mile mark right away. It’s ok if you give in to the pain. Just as long as you get back out there, and try to out-run it again. Eventually, whether you believe it or not, you’ll cross over. And it will be great.