Running helps me focus. It gives me confidence. It keeps me feeling healthy and strong.
I started running just before I turned 30. I’d never run more than 3 miles at a time, but I’d always admired runners.
The runners I knew looked great. I’m not too proud to admit that I love the idea of being a runner – the six pack abs, the strong legs, and the healthy glow my runner friends have in their faces all inspire me.
I thought I’d run one half marathon before turning 30 as part of a mini-bucket list I’d made of things I wanted to accomplish in my 20s. Instead, I’ve run three halves in the last year and a half, two of which I’ve run with my fiance. And on Thursday, I signed up for my fourth. This time, I’ll be running alone, while Nick is in Afghanistan.
You see, signing up for this half marathon is part of my own personal preparation for what I know will be an emotionally tumultuous nine months at home while Nick is deployed.
My half marathon training cycle is twelve weeks long, and it requires me to run five days each week. When I’m logging more than 20 miles each week, I find myself controlling the urge to stay up too late, eat junk food, or skip out on water during the day. When I’m in training, I get up on the weekends to work out, and I prioritize my training runs mid-week in a way that I don’t when there’s no race on the calendar, even when my work schedule is demanding.
He deploys a few weeks before the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. It’s going to be rough when he leaves, and I know that I’ll risk slipping into episodes of self-pity and sadness. I want to be stronger than that for him, and for myself, too.
If I have a race on the books, I’ll get up for training runs when I want to hide in bed, missing him. I’ll shop for fruit and whole grains when I want to eat take-out Chinese. I’ll sleep better at night, and I’ll have a reason – other than work – to get up in the mornings.
So we’re still several months away from his deployment, and I’m already building my survival plan. It begins with reminding myself (by signing up for another big race) that I am strong, and that I can do anything I set my mind to – including spending nine months in Colorado while the man I love is fighting a war halfway across the world.
What do you do when you know you want to be strong for yourself and for your solider? Do you pray? Exercise? Send him care packages? What helps you to feel like you’re halfway as strong as your soldier is, when you’re the one at home and he’s the one sleeping on a cot and working 18 hours days? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, below.