> Spirituality > Personal Growth

I Ran 6.2 Miles without Stopping and Didn’t Collapse

January 17, 2022 | by Rabbi Danny Wolfe

Incredible life lessons I learned from this massive personal accomplishment.

Three days ago, I did something I never thought I’d do. I ran 6.2 miles without stopping, for over an hour. I was cajoled into signing up for the RabbisCanRun 10k in partnership with Olami, along with 25 other rabbis from across the country. And I finished the race, right in the middle the pack!

Here are a few lessons I learned from this massive personal accomplishment.

1. Focus only on the current mile, not how many remain ahead.

Dr. Owen Anderson, a well-known running coach, explained to us that during the run, it’s easy to let your mind wander and to constantly be thinking about how many more miles you have left. This can leave one in a total state of despondence. He explained that it’s vital to focus only on the current mile, not how many remain ahead.

This powerful tool got me to the finish line. And this principle applies to other areas of life as well. We realize we have so much more to learn, and we see there are so many ways we still need to grow. There is so much room for improvement – it feels overwhelming. We need to focus on overcoming the challenges we face right now, and not look at the entire road ahead. That way we can gradually advance on our journey towards continuous growth.

My first day training

2. One Step at a Time

As I trained, I did not wake up one morning and just go for 6.2 mile jog. I began by running for ten minutes – and it was ten minutes of sheer misery. A| few days later, I ran 1 mile. After that, I ran 1.25 miles. Then 1.5. Eventually I achieved my goal.

The same applies to any goal we want to accomplish. We need to make a methodical plan to begin reaching that goal through very slow, gradual, realistic and achievable steps.

3. Our thoughts are exceedingly powerful.

Dr. Rosmarin, Founder of Center for Anxiety, Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School, explained to us that fear or low-level anxiety is not inherently bad, as it can alert us to danger. The problem is when we start becoming angry at ourselves and judge ourselves for being nervous, anxious or scared. That’s when anxiety and fear can begin to cripple us.

So while running a marathon, when we face some moments of doubt, we must remember to not get down on ourselves for feeling the fatigue and doubting ourselves.

One of our coaches told us that studies show that negative thoughts can literally cause fatigue and can affect us physically. We were advised that if at a certain point we hear ourselves saying that we simply cannot carry on, we must be careful not to dwell on that thought which would make us more anxious and cause a negative spiral. Rather, we acknowledge that it is challenging right now, then tell ourselves that we know we can do it, and keep carrying on.

When people first experience anxiety – as millions of Americans do, when they begin to panic, are they going to get mad at themselves for feeling anxious and feeling panicked? If they do, the panic will only exacerbate itself. They can acknowledge how they are feeling and choose not to get angry at themselves, and instead love and embrace themselves.

4. I am only competing against myself.

A final powerful lesson I learned occurred to me halfway through the run. I looked ahead and saw a guy 50 yards ahead of me. There was no way I was catching him. I looked behind me and there was a guy 50 yards behind. He probably wasn’t catching me. Despite being a naturally competitive person, I realized that there was no gain in comparing myself with other runners. I have natural limitations in my running capabilities, and the only thing I need to worry about is doing the best that I possibly can. Don’t compare myself to anyone else; I am only competing against myself. Am I working as hard as I can to achieve the highest performance I am capable of?

In life, it’s easy and tempting to compare ourselves to others. But ultimately, it’s foolish. They were created with a unique set of God-given talents, and their job in life is to optimize those talents and to reach their personal potential. My mission in life is not the same as theirs, and my skill set is not the same as theirs. All I can do is strive to be the best me that I can be, with the gifts that the Almighty has given me.

What’s the point of comparing myself to others?

I can’t wait to begin training for the next run and to learn even more incredible tools for navigating life.

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