RUNA week form now I will be on my way to New York City—home sweet home.  As a native New Yorker (with an accent to prove it), I am excited about returning home to run in the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon.

I made the decision to run the race in December. At the time I was overwhelmed, overstressed, and overextended. Committing to one more thing seemed like a bad idea. But, I realized that the really bad idea was not making a commitment to my health, so I decided to do it.

Since making that decision I have experienced a range of emotions. I’ve  had moments where backing out seemed like a great idea because finding the time to train was almost impossible. In those moments, a friend who is running in the race with me convinced me to keep at it by offering constant support. There were moments when the fear of completing 13.1 miles was overwhelming. In those moments, I realized that training for this race was more of a mental challenge than it was physical, so I pushed the fear out.  There were moments where it seemed like I was headed towards injury and surely I would have to give this dream up.  In those moments I took care of myself and rebuilt my strength.

I know some people hate running. I know because I was one of those people. And in all honesty, I still don’t love running. However, I will say that I love how I feel afterwards. That “runner’s high” is no joke. I also love myself and I realize that doing this really isn’t about the running.  It’s about perseverance and drive. It’s about pushing though pain and doubt.  It’s about facing fears head on and beating the sh*t out of them. It’s about truly knowing what I am capable of when I believe in myself and accept that even though something may be hard as hell, it’s doable with the right support and the right mindset.

I know it’s hard to convince anyone to run, and I am definitely not suggesting you sign up for a marathon (or even a half marathon). But, if you feel stuck in your life, consider a 5k or a 10k. It might be what you need to help you realize the strength you have within and help you get unstuck.

Here are 5 reasons why I think training for a race helps you get unstuck.

  1. Conquer fear. If running scares your because you think you are unfit, overweight, or just don’t have time to do it, let me tell you that I fell into all of those categories and I am doing it. If you conquer this fear it brings you closer to realizing you can conquer any fear.
  2. Understand your strength. Women often find themselves doing it all, but even with that frame of mind, they still haven’t truly tapped into their strength. Training for a race causes you to dig deep to determine what you are really made of.
  3. Put yourself first. When you embark on your training journey, you realize that you have to put yourself first, even if it’s just a few times a week. Running may not always be easy, but it’s time you spend doing something for yourself, bringing you closer to your goal.
  4. Clear your mind. Running helps you clear your mind and clearing your mind helps you regain focus. That is a benefit that will leak into ever area of your life. If you don’t believe me, just try it.
  5. Step out of your comfort zone. When we are uncomfortable, we grow. Since growth is what this thing called life is all about, we should be doing everything we can to grow, right? I think so. If you have never been in a race, or it’s been a really long time, the idea of training for one can be uncomfortable. Do it anyway.