Trust the Process: Lessons from a Half Marathon in the Desert

This past weekend I ran The Other Half, a 13.1 mile road race outside of Moab, Utah, which winds its way along the Colorado River and through sandstone cliffs and desert sagebrush.


Starting out through the canyon, just after sunrise.

I had begun training in August, and as the race approached, I found myself getting anxious. No matter that I’d completed my long training runs without any issues, or that I’d faithfully adhered to a training plan I’ve used before. I kept thinking about the the “what ifs”.

What if I get a bad side stitch? What if my knee starts to hurt too much? What if my stomach doesn’t cooperate? Will I be hydrated enough? Too much?

When these crazy thoughts started to pop up, I kept reminding myself to trust the process. I had prepared to the best of my ability. There was no reason to believe I wouldn’t succeed, if all went well.


My well-worn training plan, adapted from Hal Higdon’s website.

And if something did come up? If I got a cramp or food poisoning or any number of other unpredictable issues? Well, that’s the thing about running.

You can prepare all you want, hitting the pavement in bad weather or waking up before dawn to sneak in a few miles. You can follow the training plan perfectly, fuel the right way, and wear your favorite shoes, but there’s no telling how it will go exactly on race day.  In that few minutes before the gun goes off, you hope that it was enough and wish for the best.

Luckily for me, my lingering doubts were left behind in the cold desert air as I passed the starting line. At the last minute, I challenged myself not only to finish, but also to follow a pacer for as far as I could. I chose a pace that was reasonable but also ambitious, and I managed to stick with it for the whole race.


Sandstone cliffs on sandstone cliffs.

So not only did the race go well, but I also accomplished the extra challenge I threw in at the last minute! It was a good reminder to stop stressing out and have faith in my own abilities. If you’ve put in the work, the uncontrollable details aren’t worth the worry, and they likely won’t materialize anyway.

So lace up your shoes, you’ve got this!


13.1 miles later… at the finish.

2 thoughts on “Trust the Process: Lessons from a Half Marathon in the Desert

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