4 Ways Training for a Half Marathon Changed My Life

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by TiYanna Long

I’m someone that would have never previously classified myself as a runner. I always preferred more stationary methods of maintaining holistic wellness like yoga, working out on machines and good old squats. I always avoided what seemed like extreme exertion at all costs.

That was until I committed to running the 2019 Miami Half Marathon. As soon as I registered for my spot amongst the thousands of people that would cross the finish line on race day, things got super real. From that point, I had only 10 weeks to ‘get it together’.

Armed with a high level of determination, a weekly training regimen provided by the Nike Running Club app, accountability and support from my partner, and motivation from Team BrkThru to become #MiamiFamous, I started my training.

I was forced to quit smoking.

The author celebrates as she crosses the finish line of the 2019 Miami Half Marathon. Photo via TiYanna Long

The author celebrates as she crosses the finish line of the 2019 Miami Half Marathon. Photo via TiYanna Long

I experienced many mental, physical and spiritual changes throughout my marathon training. First, was a commitment to stop smoking. As someone that proudly consumes cannabis for its various medicinal properties, as well as being a cannabis industry professional, weed has been a consistent and important part of my life for more than seven years. But, I had to quit. This journey wouldn’t have worked for me otherwise.

I thought I was making healthier choices when I traded in Swisher Sweets for Raw Papers with filters a couple of years ago. However, my first day of training showed me that I was playing myself. My lung capacity was simply unable to process oxygen at the rate my body would need to get me through 13.1 miles, especially in my goal of fewer than 3 hours. It took two weeks of training to get my “airbags” to start working properly again.

So, I quit smoking weed cold turkey.

No, I have not stopped consuming cannabis altogether. Thankfully, I live in a state where the “good green” is both medicinally and recreationally legal. That means I have options as to how I can consume it. I switched to edibles and figured I would use all the new carbs as fuel for my runs. It was a winning move.

For past and present smokers that may feel hindered from taking up running, know that it is possible. I recognize this may be a bit more difficult for those that don’t have access to a variety of weed options, but the best solution actually resides in one’s own will power. You can achieve anything you put your mind to.  

Read more: How Discipline Builds Confidence in Race Training

I became mentally stronger.

Initially, when I spoke to people that enjoy running about my training journey, they all seemed to have the same encouragement: “You’re going to come to LOVE running!”

Today, I’m still waiting for the emotion of “love” to be associated with my feelings towards running. I’d say we’re still more in the “friend zone” of our relationship.

However, now that I’m more capable, I run even more. This form of cardio adds an extra health check for my life, and even though I don’t totally love it (yet), I know it has been really good for me, physically. Running is now included in at least two of my weekly workouts.

It’s ironic that habits that may not be good for us are easier to adopt than ones that will truly benefit us in the long term. Going beyond training and the race itself, adding running to my routine has created a new source of focus for me. Living in a world that is constantly changing, we could all use more focus.

Read more: How NOT to Run a Half Marathon

I learned to ‘trust the process’ again.   

Though I wanted to, I couldn’t rush through those first few weeks of training. I had to experience the struggle of getting my body aligned and finding my stride in order to be able to get through all the challenges I was going to face before race day. I wouldn’t have been able to hit my 8-mile milestone running outdoors on week seven of my training if I had quit after five minutes on the treadmill on week one.

Like many, I can get frustrated with how life works and sometimes feel impatient. We may have expected to have achieved certain things by this stage of our lives either personally, professionally or financially. However, it’s important to remember that we’re always exactly where we’re supposed to be in this moment.

I had to lean into trusting the process, and I’m now able to redirect that focus into different aspects of my life.  

I became a RUNGRL.

I am now able to acknowledge to myself that I’m a runner. I used to deny myself this title because I didn’t think I ‘fit the mold’. However, I now understand that there is no mold. No two runners are the same and there is a beauty in being able to maintain your individuality along a journey that you are on with so many others. I never felt judged during my training process, only supported and consistently more secure in the fact that I belonged.

Training for a half marathon showed me that and it changed my life for the better.

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TiYanna Long, MPA


TiYanna Long, MPA, is an educator, entrepreneur, accountability coach and founder of the social impact consulting firm Medisi Ventures. She provides personal and business development services for entrepreneurs and companies looking to take their lives and projects to the next level.

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