From time to time I kind of surprise myself with how I can dig deeper and how far or hard I can push myself. This is really a new feeling in my life that has primarily come about since I started running.

The first month or two of running was not what I would call “fun”. I was 331 pounds, and terribly unfit. So my “runs” were really just intermittent jogging and walking and it was hard as hell. But I had already signed up for and paid for a race so I was going to see it through. (for my full back story click here)

But the more I ran, the more I found that I was able to push myself that much harder. I was finding this place, deep inside, that I could tap into and go a little faster, or run a little longer. I think it is a certain mental toughness. My brain saying, ” No! Don’t quit. You can go a little further!”

Now, several months later and 40 pounds lighter, I really embrace that ability to dig deeper and push myself to beat my last pace, or run further than I did before.

This morning’s run was one of those runs. I’m running a 10k in two weeks, so I need to start upping my miles from my usual 3.1. So I set out to run 3-4 miles and wanted to keep a pace near 11 minutes per mile. But at the 3 mile mark I was feeling great, so I thought let’s push it to 4 miles. I also noticed my pace was close to 10:40 per mile.

By the time the little lady in my headphones told me I hit 4 miles, I was really feeling the burn, but then I heard a little voice inside of me that said “You can do 5 miles. You need to do 5 miles. And speed it up”. So I did just that! With one mile to go, I picked up my pace to about 10:20 per mile, and pushed myself to keep going.

By the time I wound back up at my house, the official stats were: 5.23 miles, 54:55 minutes, 10:30 average pace. The crazy thing is I know I could have pushed to the 10k, 6.2 mile distance. However, because this is the first time I’ve ran over 4 miles in a long time, I didn’t want to risk injury by pushing my body too far too early. Especially just two weeks from the race.

This was just another example of how running has taught me that limits are meant to be pushed, and that I am capable of so much more than I know.

Now it makes me think, where else in my life can I apply this new found mental toughness?

If you are just starting out running, I want you to know that the ability to achieve more and dig deeper is inside of you! It’s inside all of us. The more you push yourself, the more it reveals itself.

Good luck out there and dig deeper!  You can do it!

~ Jay Cunningham