I recently completed a half marathon with my brother and his friend. This was a lot of hard work. For 3 months I put in long runs every couple days no matter the weather and no matter how I was feeling. Now I do enjoy running but "running" and training for a long distance race are a little different.
Before my training started in earnest, I would do the occasional 3 mile run maybe once or twice a week. By the end of my training, 5 miles was a short day and a long run was 10 miles. This takes a lot of commitment, both in time and motivation. I did not always enjoy it but when race day came I was prepared. Since this would be the first time running 13.1 miles in one run I went in with few expectations starting my training. By the end of my training I hoped to break 2 hours and felt prepared to.
How did I get myself from running 3 miles and being tired to running 13 miles in sub 2 hours? Repeated effort and work. Running has very obvious indicators of compounding work paying off. Running the same distance as last week a little faster or keeping the same pace for an extra mile. This feedback is awesome in letting you know what you are doing is the right thing and you are progressing. I struggle to find this same feedback outside of running though.
Learning and programming don't feel quite as linear to me. Some days I feel like I'm at the same spot I was a year ago but I keep putting in effort. I think I'm improving but it's hard to know for sure when I keep getting new challenges and I have moving goals. The best I can do is put in effort, ask for feedback and keep working hard.
At mile 10 in my race I was hitting my effort limits. I was running farther and faster than any of the runs I had done before, but it wasn't enough. I needed to run an additional 3.1 miles, so what did I do? I just kept running. I kept my pace consistent and kept at it, and guess what? I made it in 1:49! At the end I was proud and it felt great to complete a big milestone.
This half marathon was a great way to reaffirm the benefits to working hard towards my goals outside of running. What keeps you going and working hard?