As I am training (or attempting to train) for a half marathon in May, I am working on building my endurance. Some days are better than others (though isn’t that the case with everything in life?). As I have been running (and especially when I am in pain or struggling), I find myself thinking about the endurance that it takes to get through cancer treatment and how universal the concept of endurance is. Some fundamental components of endurance include:
- Establishing clear goals. During both cancer treatment as well as training, the ultimate goal for me has alway been completion, getting to the finish line. In one piece!
- Following a routine. Routines were very comforting during treatment. I knew what to expect (for the most part) and allocated time and energy accordingly. I find the same to be true when I am running. I like my shoes tied a certain way, wear the same clothes and eat the same things before my runs.
- Pace yourself. It’s never good to go out too strongly and therefore peak to early. When it comes to running, I like to start slowly and end strongly. When I was sick, I did my best to pace myself and not over exert my emotional or physical energy. This philosophy was a lifesaver on more than one occasion.
- Recovering. After every treatment just as after every long run, I allow time for recovery. Recovery between chemo treatments was challenging (understatement of the year!), but oh so necessary. Our bodies need to heal after extreme exertion and rest is the best way to do it!
- Record progress. When I am training for a long run, I keep a record of my progress. It’s fun to see how far I’ve come. I did the same when I was sick. I kept a calendar to focus on my progress. It was inspiring!
- Choosing your attitude. You know this by now. It’s all about looking at the glass as half full or half empty. Attitude is truly a choice. Sometimes it’s a really (really!) hard choice, but it is a choice nonetheless.
- Having faith in yourself. Know that you have inner strength and resources that, when tapped, can take you to unimaginable places, from finishing a year of grueling cancer treatment to completely an incredibly challenging road race. Know and believe that you CAN do this.
- Reaching out for support. Whether running with a partner for support or calling on personal or professional encouragement during treatment, support can be an incredible source of strength to buoy you through even the most difficult of circumstances.
- Counting your Silver Linings. Even on the darkest, hardest days, when your body hurts the most and you feel more exhausted than you have ever felt in your life, counting Silver Linings will not only get you through, but will inspire you to cross the finish line.
By the way, the image above was taken by my dear friend Elizabeth Messina when she came to chemo with me.