Life lessons learned through marathon training

Life lessons learned through marathon training

by Jennifer Brown
Stripes Japan

Editor’s note: At Stripes Japan, we love to share your stories and share this space with our community members. Here is an article written by Jennifer Brown, a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. If you have a story or photos to share, let us know at japan@stripes.com.

           

Has anyone ever thought about setting off on an endeavor as a child, but forgot about it later on? When I was younger, I thought running a marathon would be a huge achievement. As a high school student, my grandmother even encouraged me to join cross-country. While I had always thought about joining the team, I did not see myself as a runner, at least, not like those on the varsity team. I soon realized though, that running is more than the sport itself; it is about self-exploration, pushing beyond your comfort level, and teamwork. As a young woman, I embarked on training for my first marathon… and completed it! In doing so, I have come to realize now that dreams I once created can become a reality.

 

Why train and run a marathon?

While I ran 5Ks during cross-country, running a marathon had always seemed to be a momentous achievement to me. In my mind, if I could run a marathon, what couldn’t I do? Nevertheless, running the entire 26.2 miles was still very intimidating. While I thought that 12 miles was tough, I had to run double that…I sometimes felt wiped halfway through!

Why did I train for it now?

One of the things I have realized as an adult is that other aspirations I created as a child have come and gone. For instance, I have had a few opportunities to pursue work with children, something that I envisioned for myself someday. The problem is, I found myself making excuses when opportunities came up to actually work with kids. Instead of running toward my dream, I still held onto anxiety about pursuing it. For example, I was embarrassed to go to an event at a school because I am not a super outgoing person. Now if I had chosen to listen to my fear, I would have regretted not going and missing out on the opportunity.

This is the same concept I came across when I started training. The lesson I have found here is that fear and anxiety seem to be at the forefront of any decision. The important thing is to move forward anyway. This is one of the principles I am following during my marathon training. Sometimes I was fearful about a run and had doubts that I would actually follow through with it; I had to keep reminding myself that this is all normal. Moreover, if I do not feel like I am living up to my own expectations, it is probably just part of the process; there is nothing wrong with me.

Making Dreams become Reality

If you asked me last summer if I was going to sign up for the marathon this past February, I would have said, “I don’t think I can handle that”! I was invited to train for the marathon and thought I should tackle a half first before attempting a full marathon. After a few days though, I decided to give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if I didn’t make it, I could at least say I trained for a marathon; that I attempted my goal.

Perhaps another important lesson I have found while training is that running is not easy. Unlike other sports, running is more mental than anything else. You are running against yourself, and in training, sometimes you are the only one who keeps yourself accountable.

These are just a few examples of the lessons I have learned while pursuing my dream. Do you have any dreams you are on the fence about pursuing? If you do, what is stopping you? Is it you?

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Jennifer Brown is a hospital corpsman at U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa. Originally from Florida, she joined the Navy in 2018 and has been on island for over a year. During her free time, Brown enjoys spending time with animals, running, rock climbing, and hiking. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Her professional interests include social work, animal welfare, and children.

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