As you already know, if you read last week’s blog, I ran a half marathon the same weekend my son turned 22.
It turns out these two things had way more in common than I anticipated. Not my son turning 22 but his actual birthday.
Both seemed excruciatingly long, painful, and terrible as they were happening. Both were also incredibly amazing when they were finally done. I was proud of myself for getting through labor and for getting through that horrible half marathon. Ironically, both happened on Labor Day weekend!
In both cases, I also wanted to quit.
In both cases, I failed at quitting! Being in Labor is something that you really can’t quit, right? I mean, you have to keep going no matter how much it hurts and how desperately you want it to be over. There’s no going back.
During the race, it turned out to be similar. I actually even tried to quit.
We had already been through some of the most gruelingly steep terrains I have ever encountered. Half the time, we were running through a rocky river bed, the other running through tree roots so big running was a joke. There were even rocks we had to scramble over to get to the other side. It was crazy!
My Runkeeper App said 9 miles when we finally got to the 2nd Aid station, but the volunteers said we were only halfway done. WHAT??? A half marathon is only supposed to be 13.1 miles. I guess in Canada, they aren’t too particular about distance!
I really didn’t think I could make it. But I kept following my boyfriend up the hill. A little while up the trail, I changed my mind and decided to call it. It was a hard decision, but I was so drained mentally and physically I just didn’t think I could finish 5 or 6 more miles or however long these Canadians measured it out to be (it was very unclear). I decided to run back to the aid station and call it a day.
I had clearly bit off more than I could chew with this one, and I had to honor where I was at. The last thing I wanted to do was get a permanent injury from pushing myself too hard and have to deal with that for months!
Unfortunately, by the time I got there, no one was there.
I had no choice but to keep going.
“I can’t even quit, right!” I thought to myself through bitter tears. I’m never going to make it, but now I have to.
I’m glad I did. Because the truth is even when you feel like you are at the absolute end of your rope and you can’t go another step, YOU CAN! It’s like some kind of miracle happens.
I somehow kept going….and going…and going for another 6 miles. YES, a half is supposed to be 13.1. My Runkeeper App said 15.9 by the end of it. (I did backtrack a little but not more than couple hundred yards). This was the longest run I had ever completed and on the roughest terrain, I had ever encountered.
It was the same in childbirth. After two days of contractions, I REALLY didn’t think I was capable of anything more. I remember telling the nurses, “I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.” In that scenario, as we all know, you have to.
I guess the point is that even when things are REALLY rough, and it feels like you can’t go on even one more step, you can! YOU ACTUALLY CAN!!
The truth is that the feeling of being completely unable to continue, that feeling that you have absolutely nothing left in the tank, actually correlates to being about 40% from full capacity. This means that when you feel like you absolutely have nothing left, you actually have about 60% of your capacity left! That’s over half!
This was mind-blowing to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this rule until after the race. If I had, it probably would’ve helped me resist the urge to quit in the middle. Hopefully, it will help me next time I feel at the end of my rope in the future.
Hopefully, this can help you next time you feel like you just can’t go on in your life, no matter what the reason. Running is symbolic, but what about if you’re going through a divorce and feel like you can’t take one more fight with your ex? Or you’re going through a health issue that you just can’t take it anymore? Or your kids have pushed you to your limit yet again, and you just can’t bear the incessant fighting (or whatever) anymore??
I’m here to tell you that you CAN! You CAN do it.
You CAN keep going.
You actually have 60% of your capacity left!
You just have to understand the 40% rule.
This idea comes from a Navy Seal named David Goggins. And it’s called the 40% rule. It means that when you feel you’re done, you’ve only pushed yourself to 40% of your capacity. He proves this time and time again by completing insane 100-mile races despite heart and kidney problems and broken foot bones. I never thought I’d be blogging about a Navy Seal, but here I am! When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, I guess some pretty crazy things happen.
His motto actually goes along with something I said in my last blog “Everything worth doing is preceded by a sense of dread.” Goggins says, “if it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it!” WOW! That is the EXACT opposite of how I have chosen to live my life. Remember my motto from last week? “No pain, no pain!”
Anyway, I think you need to be balanced with both approaches. Sometimes pushing yourself too hard has real consequences and downsides. But the opposite is also true.
I hope this 40% rule and what I learned running this race might help you next time you’re at the end of your rope. If you’re at the end of your rope right now, feel free to hit reply and reach out.
Maybe you need more support to get through whatever challenge you find yourself in. I know I couldn’t have finished that race without my partner, who told me about the 40% rule in the first place! Yes, he’s a former military guy.
Sometimes we need professional support to heal the trauma that gets triggered when we go through these challenges in life. Challenges of any kind activate our deepest, most unhealed parts of ourselves. While this isn’t always pretty, it does provide an opportunity for deeper healing if you have the right support.