How Being a Runner Broke Me and Made Me Whole

I am a runner. I wasn’t born a runner. And never did I think I’d become “a runner.” 

 But now, I can proudly say that I am a runner.

Before beginning my journey as a runner, I was confident that I could get into it but also knew it would be challenging. I knew that the physical benefits of running – feeling healthier and looking better – would be nice byproducts and mentally I wanted to put my skills and all the work I was doing inside my head to the test.

After all, have you ever heard someone say that running is “all mental” or “99% percent mental?” They believe that most people have the physical capability to prepare to run a marathon (or other races) through proper training, but the real path to achieving the goal is through mental strength.

Well, I believe I am a mentally strong person. I have worked very hard to get inside my head, understand my thoughts, and manage what I think and do to effectively live my purpose. I have learned to coach others and help them deal with and manage the mental aspects of business and achievement. And through the years, I built a robust toolbox of resources I can apply to most situations to help me operate from a place of love and gratitude.

In my mind, the mental readiness box was checked.

Over the past two months – after the Tokyo marathon was canceled and our world was flipped upside down by the pandemic – I elevated my running challenge by committing to run every day. At the end of April, I ran the most miles I ever ran in one month totaling 218 miles. For May, I decided to do the Jesse Itzler “Calendar Club Challange.” The challenge required that I run the number of miles that correlated with the day of the month. Meaning on the first, I ran one mile. On the second, I ran two, the third, I ran three, and so on…

I brought my May running mileage to 418 miles and then it came to a screeching halt.

I broke – literally.

As I finished – what is now known as my “last run” – I felt a pain that I knew was “beyond normal” and opted to see my doctor. While I figured it was just a minor issue and I was mentally prepared to keep running, I found out that my body hit its breaking point. Unknowingly, I ran two marathon-distance runs with what I learned was a stress fracture in my leg. The news of my broken foot and the recovery plan hurt in ways I didn’t expect that went far beyond the physical discomfort.

After truly realizing that I was physically broken, I broke on the inside. 

My mental strength was tested in a way in which I didn’t prepare for and I hit a place of panic that cracked the door open and let my inner critic creep in. Then before I knew it, I was in a bad, weird, unhappy place. I was disappointed that my goals were unreachable. I felt like my hard work was gone and it was such a disheartening feeling to know that even though I was mentally strong, no mental force could push me past a broken bone. My inner critic put that demonizing thought into my head that I was going to go back to being “the Old Chad,” the non-runner, out-of-shape Chad that wasn’t healthy or driven.

But I beat the inner critic.

Over time, I learned how to manage those thoughts and push through them. So I put my lessons into action and eventually, I snapped out of it. 

I brought myself to the realization that no injury could rob me of the five marathons and 800+ miles I ran in about 60 days. Nothing could take away the lessons I learned during the challenge, the feelings I got from the people who supported me when I ran (and when I couldn’t), the silent conversations I had in my head to keep me present and keep my feet moving when I knew they wanted to stop – all of that was a part of who I was and nothing could take that away. 

My mental strength was not prepared for my sports-related injury. It took me down and broke me. But I had to break to put myself back together in a brand new way and realize that I can never be the Old Chad. I am a new Chad and this experience brought me another step closer to becoming my best self – the exact mission I wake up every day determined to continue. 

This was a lesson the universe wanted to teach me. So I realize that it’s just a few steps back, which will keep me running many more steps forward.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email