5 Lessons From 5 Kilometres

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On Saturday, I ran 5 kilometres for the first time.

To those of you who maybe don’t know me all that well, let me explain why this is significant.

In grade school, I got zero in triple jump. My running form was (is?) compared to that of a baby giraffe. I could never finish the 1500 metre run without walking, and always came in the last batch. Because of all that, I lost interest in athletics – if I think I’m not good at something, I lose all motivation to do it, because I hate failure and I hate being unsuccessful. (I am an enneagram 3w4 to my CORE.)

In university, I tried a few times to exercise, always unsuccessfully. I tried classes, I tried machines, I tried friendship, I tried paying. I just could never regularly discipline myself to exercise. At a kick boxing class once, the instructor told us to do push ups, and I just laid on the ground. Exercise seemed too complicated so I settled for cheering at Ryerson Rams games and living my life vicariously through the athletes exercise regiments.

But then on Saturday, I ran 5K for the first time, and I ran without stopping, and I finished strong, and I am now obnoxiously proud. We had started running 5 months before race day, and in these last 5 months, I’ve learned so much, but here’s my favourite lessons from five kilometres.

KILOMETRE ONE: Community is better. 

If I’m being honest, I prefer to do things independently. But I would’ve given up all 5K training if I wasn’t doing it in a community – for reals. I did the training and the race with some co-workers who turned into some of my favourite friends on this journey. Doing it together made it so much better. We showed up. We held each other accountable. We encouraged each other to take a day off when needed. We showed up – at 6:30 am sometimes, in -15 degree weather sometimes. We did it together, and I loved getting to complain together and encourage each other.

KILOMETRE TWO: Discipline is worth it. 

I think community is mainly what made the discipline worth it. But I felt accomplished, bad ass, and strong every time I showed up. Especially when we first started, we were incredibly disciplined in showing up, and five months later, it paid off. For me, community and discipline are linked – without the community, I wouldn’t have learned the value of discipline, because I would’ve give up on this so much earlier.

KILOMETRE THREE: Go Slow.

In the iconic words of Erin, “I’m never focused on pace; I’m only ever focused on not dying.”

It took us five months to fully complete an 8 week program, and that was good. It was never about doing it as fast as possible. It was about the process, and taking our time with it. Pacing was good. I realized more and more that I love getting things done and out of the way so I can move on to the next thing. Going slow taught me to savour. To finish strong. (And in my actual 5K, it was the hardest between 3K & 4K, so this is when I went my slowest. I have a lot of feelings on the third kilometre, to be honest.)

KILOMETRE FOUR: Small victories are still victories. 

Three months into the race, we ran for 20 minutes straight. I couldn’t make it the fully 20 minutes the first time we ran, so I only ran 19 minutes. My friends were so excited and so proud of us, and I was bitter, grumpy, and angry at myself. I wouldn’t and couldn’t let myself be excited or proud, because in my mind, two things were wrong.

First, I couldn’t get over the fact that I failed to run for 20 minutes straight, and second, we hadn’t even run 5K yet, so what was even the point of celebrating?

Here’s what I realized after some over-analyzing reflection (because I obviously over-analyzed this): small victories are still victories worth celebrating. Doing something that’s a milestone on the journey is just as worth celebrating as the final destination. You don’t need to be so hard on yourself – celebrate making it to something you never thought you could do 10 years ago, let alone 6 months ago. Victory is victory – claim it as such.

KILOMETRE FIVE: Cut the crap & do it. 

About a year ago, I found myself reflecting on how I often say, “I could never do that” or “Oh, I’m not good at that” when I didn’t want to do something. It was code for, I don’t want to try, I’m scared, and it seems too hard. It was a cop out excuse; a means of protecting myself from failing by saying it’s not possible, so I’m not going to try.

God taught me a lot over the last few months, and a lot over this 5K, but in the last month and in the last kilometre, I was confronted with how often I try to control my life, telling God what is and isn’t possible. And yet. God keeps making a way in the wilderness, challenging me to do things I never thought I would do. Doing things that move me from old hurts to victory and freedom.

We all know what excuses we make – and I’m thankful for a God who is forever bigger than my excuses, expectations, and limitations. Who challenges me to become better, and who helps me claim victories big and small. I’m thankful for a God who cuts right to the core of the issue and strengthens me to DO THE THING.

Obviously, nothing on this blogpost is actually helpful if you’re looking to start running, and yes, this may have just been a way to humble brag. But since I’ve started running (& I’ll be straight up: running isn’t my favourite form of exercise and I don’t love it), I’ve learned so much, and I’m so thankful for this experience and the life lessons that go beyond five kilometres and stretch into the rest of life.

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