running lessons: we can do hard things

Welcome back to Life Lessons Learned While Running.  Enjoy the fifth of many lessons learned while running.  You can read the first lesson about slowing your pace here, the second lesson about learning to breathe here, the third lesson about taking a sabbatical here, and the fourth lesson about savoring the moment here.

So, recently, I ran my very first half marathon.  As you can tell from my other posts, I’m sort of a runner.  I’m a fair weather, perfect conditions, short distance runner.  I wasn’t a half marathon-er (or even a consistent Bix-er) and I certainly wasn’t a “let’s train for something in the cold weather months” kind of girl.

My mantra, thank you Momastery, quickly became “I can do hard things” … especially when midweek runs got longer and weekend runs even longer yet.  It became kind of a family saying when the girls would join me to run the hallways of my elementary school during the cold months.  When the weather turned and I would load up my Camelback and say, see you in a long while, I would tell them, “Mommy can do hard things” and I would half believe it taking those first few steps.


Come race day, I was ready.  I had done the work and I was ready to … well, I was ready to be done doing the work, let’s be real.  I had no time goals, but my one goal was to run every step – to walk none.  I am fully supportive of walk/runners, lest this not sound judgy, but I wanted only running for my race.  I felt great and, before I knew it, I was 3 miles in.  And then I felt my IT band begin to throb.  And then I felt pain with every other foot fall.

I can do hard things, I said.  And I did.  I ran every single, painful step and, at approximately 12 miles, my mind said “you know what?  This is really awesome that you’ve run 12 miles.  Why don’t you go ahead and just lay down right here?  It’s cool, Ab.  12’s great.  Lay down.”  Thankfully, I did not.  I can do hard things.  I ran further and finished that race, with my girls and family cheering me on.  No steps were a walk.  Because I can do hard things.


I am not naive enough to even begin to think 13.1 miles is the hardest thing I will ever have to do.  I am certain it is far from that.  But our family mantra has persisted.  My two year old struggles with daycare drop-off, despite loving it once she’s settled.  I tell her how brave she is and how proud I am that she can do hard things.  My four year-old is a walking case of pink eye with a severe fear of eye drops.  I talk to her about how awesome it is that she can do hard things.  My six year-old can tell you that brave and afraid are not opposites, but rather brave is a choice you make even when you are at your most afraid.

As moms we are constantly doing hard things.  It’s ok to admit they are hard and let our children be a part of that process.  I hope that in giving my daughters the language of bravery, stressing that this is not the absence of fear, I am preparing them for hard things to come.  When one of the girls is particularly stuck, I will gently remind her “we can do …” and listen to her fill in “hard things!” and see the flash of bravery cross her eyes.

I don’t plan to run 13.1 miles again anytime soon … or ever again … but I will do more hard things and so will my girls.  I hope we can revisit our mantra and know we CAN do hard things.


13.1 at the finish line!


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3 Responses to running lessons: we can do hard things

  1. Kim May 26, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    I love the idea of teaching our kids the language of bravery. Such an amazing thing that I have never really thought of. Thank you for inspiring me to think bigger.


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