Why I Can Believe In Myself

Maybe I Already Have the Ability Within Me

Photo by Andy Montes de Oca on Unsplash

I Did Some Digging

What If I Didn’t Understand What It Meant?

Photo by sporlab on Unsplash

What if I Set My Mind to Automatic

Cheering Myself On

How Tomorrow Will Be Different

Miles 1 and 2- will be run with my head.

Miles 3 and 4- will be with my legs and training.

Miles 5 and 6- will be with my heart.

Mile .2- will be with my spirit

A Wise Runner

Win the Match Before You Get There


green tennis ball on court
Photo by Bogdan Glisik on Pexels.com

Tennis is mostly mental. Of course, you must have a lot of physical skill, but you can’t play tennis well and not be a good thinker. You win or lose the match before you even go out there.- (Venus Williams) 

Not If, but When

The question is not if there will be difficult moments that have the potential to throw you off your game, but what you will do when you notice them? 

Taking the time to visualize, write out ahead of time or mentally consider what you will do when you are exhausted, frustrated, feel beaten up, scared, anxious before it actually happens.  

Make the Choice to Win the Match Ahead of Time

Strengthen your body, mind, and spirit before you begin the “Match” or the day.  Anticipate a few of the struggles that might arise and take control by deciding how you will respond ahead of time. 

Decide to win the match before you get there.


The Quest to Run a 100-Mile Week

A Distance Runner’s Challenge

purple flower field during sunset
Photo by Venelin Dimitrov on Pexels.com

The Dream of 100 Miles

With the wind at my back, and three kids and a golden retriever by my side, I extended my arms to give thanks for the ability to do what I had never done before.  I completed a challenge that had once seemed impossible. I had completed a 100-mile week.  

Where the Idea Started

Flashback to March 19, Brandi, a running club friend of mine sent me a message that would alter my spring for the better.  She said, “You know if there was ever a time for a 100-mile week…” I quickly typed back, “100? No way, do you really think it is possible?”  She suggested that it was only a few more miles per day than what an 80-mile week consisted of.

I was really excited about the idea, but a few days later, after I let it spin around in my mind sent her a message saying, “Do you really think I could do this?” 

Planning for 100

Brandi assured me that I had what it took to run 100, and that the only limitations are the ones that I place on myself. I kept spinning the idea for a few days and talked to her husband, Marvin, a pretty extreme distance runner. He said that I absolutely could do this, and believed 100 percent it was attainable.  But, advised me to wait another week and be smart so that I didn’t wind up injured. I also talked with my husband, an extreme runner as well, pitched my idea, and he said, yeah, you can go for it, but you have to run low mileage next week. No more than a 45-mile week so you are rested. 

He also advised me to not wait until midweek to start ramping up the mileage. Monday, he said, needed to include a high number of miles.  

It was Go Time

And so on March 30th, 2020, I set out on a quest to start a 100-mile week. 

I Enjoyed Having a Teammate

Marvin decided that he was interested in running a pretty high mileage week as well.  I didn’t know how far he was interested in running at the start of the week. I was hoping his goal was similar to mine.  We talked back and forth throughout the week about how the run was going and how many more times we would hit the street. It was really awesome to have someone going through the same experience with me.  Even though we did not run together, I loved the feeling of knowing that we were crossing the same streets and on the same mission. I used to think that being part of a running club was unnecessary since I am a pretty solo runner. 

I Don’t Mind the Solitude of Running, but Enjoy Being on A Team

I don’t mind the solitude and crave the opportunity to be by myself on the open road, but there is something about having teammates. The opportunity to connect with like-minded people who are equally as excited about your goals as they are their own is something so amazing, it can hardly be described.  This week I felt like a teammate in every sense of the word.  

How I Broke the Mileage Up

I made sure to start the week out strong.  I also consistently did the math, so that I was doing at least the minimum each day.  I did not want to wind up with 20 miles left to run on Sunday.  

Monday 3/30 – 10 miles in the morning and 8 miles in the afternoon

Tuesday 3/31- 13.1 miles in the middle of the day, and 3.35 miles in the late afternoon

Wednesday 4/1- 9.07 miles in the morning and  6.54 miles in the afternoon

Thursday 4/2- 14.32 miles middle of the day run

Friday 4/3- 5.13  miles morning run and 7 mile afternoon run

Saturday 4/4- 4.2, 4.04, 4.10 and 4.07 mile loops throughout the day.

(My husband was running the virtual backyard ultra race that consisted of 4.2 mile loops)  

Sunday  4/5-6.10 miles on my own and then a final mile with my kids and dog. 

Sticking to the Plan

A few times during the week I felt a little exhausted after my second run, but there was something addicting about sticking to the plan and committing to a final outcome no matter what. 

On Wednesday evening, I remember thinking to myself, “Do I really want to do this? Does it really matter?”

I Was Overcome with Gratitude

Thursday, I decided to go for a longer run.  About 4 miles into the 14-mile run, I could not help but be filled with gratitude.  I was incredibly grateful that the legs that had carried me so many miles this week were the same ones that had crossed the finish line of 29 marathons, chased after my kids when they were little, walked up the stairs to a Spanish class in college where I met my husband, triumphantly walked up to the stage to get a diploma, carefully climbed a waterfall in Jamaica, boarded a plane to study in Mexico, walked into a title company to buy our first home, almost collapsed on my way into the hospital as I miscarried, triumphantly crossed the line of my first 5k, walked out of an interview as I received my first job, ran up to see the list of freshman who had made the junior varsity softball team, and staggered through several difficult long runs.  Through the good and bad, my legs had been there.

When I was younger, I used to wish they were stronger, thinner, and more of anything else I could think of. Today, I realized that I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s. They were mine, they were perfect and I was blessed.  

My Teammate Had Finished

Sunday morning, Marvin sent a message that he had finished. As I saw the proof in his screenshot from Strava, my eyes filled with tears.  He had done the impossible. He had finished the 100-mile week. And now he was cheering me on, and telling me to get out there and finish mine.  

The Final Day

And so, I laced my pink Nike’s up, turned on my music, and tapped the screen of my phone so Strava would record my second to last run of the week. And a few miles in, all I could think about was how grateful I was to be running! I was within a few miles of finishing a 100-mile week.

The Second to Last Run

6.1 miles later, I had completed 99 miles.  It is tradition for my middle son Luke, (11 years old and my dog) to run the last mile with me of a lengthy mileage week. 

And, to my surprise, when I stopped to get Luke and Prince (my golden retriever), I discovered that my other two kids were interested in joining me in the last mile!  We took off.

The Finish-line

As we rounded the last corner and had about two-tenths of a mile to go, I put on my oldest son’s favorite song, “We didn’t start the Fire” by Billy Joel and we picked up our pace as the finish line came into view.  

The Impossible was in My Reach

The finish-line which consisted of my husband cheering and taking pictures with his iPhone, marked the beginning of a new mindset. 

My impossible was within reach. If I could run 100 miles in one week, what couldn’t I do?


A Letter to Parents From a Teacher

people coffee meeting team
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

School is Closed for the Remainder of the Year

Last Thursday, on April 3rd, our Governor made the decision that schools would remain closed for the rest of the year. As a parent of three kids (ages 9, 11, and 13), I decided to write an email to the parents of my students. Even though it is awesome to have time with your kids, and be able to be a big part of their educational process, it s overwhelming when it happens and you were not necessarily expecting it.

A Letter to Parents from A Teacher

Good Morning:

This email comes from me as a parent as well as a teacher. I am not sure what the district has in mind for us as teachers, and the direction that education and daily life will go in the next few months. But, what I do know is that this is figuroutable. We were made to thrive. Over the next few months education will look different, but it will be okay.

First- Take Care of Yourself

First, make sure that you as a parent or guardian take care of yourself. Give yourself space, your children will benefit from seeing you make it through this time, and how you do it.

Secondly- Your Best is Perfect

Secondly, try your best. Nobody can ask for more than that. Your effort is what they will remember.

Thirdly-Less is More

Thirdly, less is more. Focus on doing a few things well. Focus on what went well. You can do everything, but you can’t do everything at the same time.

Fourth- Don’t Compare What You Didn’t Do

Fourth, don’t compare what you and your children are not doing to another family. Education and life in general looks very different for each house. Be proud of what you accomplish.

Fifth- Timeouts are a Good Thing

Fifth, it is okay to get frustrated, timeouts are not just for toddlers. They are great strategies for parents and teens. It is okay to walk away from work and come back to it.

Sixth- Focus on 3 and 4

Sixth, focus on 3 good things about each day, spending intentional and quality time with each family member weekly, and aim for 4 out of 7 good days each week.

The unknown is tough. Focus on what you can do. Lean into your strengths as well as your children’s strengths. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Stay Connected And Be Filled With Hope

 If there is anything I can do (whether it is the subject area I teach or not) please don’t hesitate to contact me. Sometimes it helps just to run a strategy or idea by another parent or teacher.

Stay connected. Be filled with hope. You are amazing.

Sincerely, Laura McDonell

It’s Not About Where You are Starting From

chicago theater
Photo by Trace Hudson on Pexels.com

It’s not about where you are starting from, it’s about how far you have come. Often, the first time we do most things, there is room for improvement. I can remember some of my first races, the first semester in college, first-year teaching, first-year married, and as a parent. These areas each included challenging first moments.

Very few things can be controlled and excelled at during a first experience doing something. Expect to be terrible the first time.

Terrible First Time

Brené Brown recently said it well on her podcast. “This is your terrible first time making your way through a pandemic”.

None of us have ever navigated a time like this before. Expect it is like most first times, and will be tough. As our lives are becoming more simplified, they are becoming equally as challenging.

The best thing we can do is realize that first times are tough. The best thing to do is focus on grace. We can be better than we deserve to be when there is extra grace. Grace can be defined as undeserved kindness.

Show Yourself the Grace You Would Show Others

We need to show it to everyone around us, and most importantly ourselves. Be gentle with yourself. It’s your first time tackling something bigger than you could have imagined. And, you are exactly where you need to be.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

Become Who You Want To Be 

exercise female fitness foot
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

The First Time I Called Myself A Runner

I remember the first time I called myself a runner.  I was on a first date with my husband, and we were waiting for a movie to begin. Trying to sound impressive to someone who had previously been a pretty good cross country runner, before I really thought about what I was saying, I blurted out, “We should go for a run some time together. I am a runner too”. 

What I had to do

After I got home that evening, I realized what I had said, and what it meant.  Since a ½ mile felt like a long way, and my running life had been limited to gym class and the sprints we had to do in basketball, I realized I needed to start running the next day. How tough could it be right?

Fortunately running is a sport that accepts you no matter what. 

I had always wanted to have the identity of a runner. So why not start becoming who I wanted to be. 

Now is the time to embrace an identity you have always wanted to have. You can become anything you want to.  Start before you are ready. Begin doing what someone who has that identity would do.

Humble Beginnings

Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be (Job 8:7).

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

Train So You Can Tolerate it


woman girl silhouette jogger
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Embrace the Journey

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback, Nick Foles has experienced several ups and downs during his career.  From Superbowl wins to a broken collar bone, and a list of many other ups and downs, Foles has embraced the journey.

He says, “Our purpose isn’t football.  It’s impacting people”.

Foles says that when you read the word of God, and you understand it, there’s trials along the way, but it makes it possible for your heart to be who you are. 

Expect it to Hurt

“The Race always hurts.  Expect it to hurt. You don’t train so it doesn’t hurt, you train so you can tolerate it” (Mark Rowland).  The tough moments in life are going to hurt.

No matter the amount of good you are trying to do in the world, life will include pain, anger, disappointment, fear and sadness.  And, some days will be really tough.  

Fill Your Mind with Fuel that Offers Hope

Focus on filling your mind with fuel that includes, hope, courage, scripture, great moments, love, encouragement, beauty, opportunity, challenge, growth, and friendship.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, that’s why we are not discouraged. Even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day.

You Train so You Can Tolerate It

The daily training, called life, is tough. But you don’t train so that it will be easy and not hurt.  You train so you can tolerate the really tough moments and somehow keep fighting.  

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

A Good Coach

When someone requires your best, take it as a compliment

Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

What a Good Coach Demands

A good coach, who I admire posted the following quote yesterday, “Athletes, a good coach will demand in direct proportion to how much they believe in you and care for you. When someone requires your best, take it as a compliment”.

The Challenge

If you are fortunate enough to find a good coach, you are blessed. The role of a good coach is a challenging one. A good coach believes in his or her athletes, asks the right questions, recruits, designs plays, organizes competition, and articulates a strategy to win. A good coach studies an athlete and creates a plan of action. A good coach tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

A Good Coach Believes in You

A good coach requires more of you than you thought was possible. A good coach believes in you.

Jesus is a Good Coach

Jesus was a good coach. He recruited 12 disciples and was relentless about the goals he had for them. He saw the potential in the 12 and pushed them when they were tired. Jesus is a coach who has not retired. He recruited you and is requiring your best. A best, that you might not even realize you are capable of. He has sought out opportunities and is organizing a strategy for you to win.

Take the fact that Christ requires a lot from you as a compliment because it is in direct proportion to what you are capable of.

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.


A Great Future Doesn’t Require a Great Past

gray concrete post tunnel
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Doesn’t Require a Good Past

A good friend shared one of her favorite quotes with me.  “A great future does not require a great past”.  

The Purpose of Our Past

We are the sum of everything that has happened to us. Whether our past is filled with things we are proud of, sprinkled, or even packed with moments that overwhelm us too much to revisit, future success is dependent on our imagination, vision, faith, and desire to move forward. 

Own the Past.

It is important to own the past, even if some of it was out of our control. The purpose of our past is to build awareness, character, faith, bonds, habits, stamina, resilience, opportunity, and courage so that we can thrive in the future.

You have been designed to be victorious not a victim. Your story is not over.  

The Future is What Matters

No matter what yesterday, a week ago, or 30 years ago looked like, He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.

The Fight Is Yours To Win

man ripping finish line strap
Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

When You Hit Rock-Bottom

I know that I can deal when things are bad. I can come back when things are at their worst. I’m not afraid of losing all my money or losing my career because I know I’m capable of living in my car and rising up. 

Once you’ve conquered the worst things that could happen, there is no need to fear the unknown. The fight is yours to win. – Ronda Rousey (Professional Wrestler) 

My Fight Your Fight

In her book, My Fight- Your Fight, Rousey talks about low points in her life.  One was when she was living in her car and had lost everything. You may not have lived in your car, lost your money or career, but you have hit rock-bottom in another way or had really low moments that you might be embarrassed to share, but will always remember.  

And, because you are still here, there will be more difficulties to face. Don’t despair, the fight is yours to win. With God’s help, you are capable of rising up and coming back.  

You Can Rise Up

But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (Psalm 3:3). You are capable of amazing things. Yes, you can rise up and come back.  The fight is yours to win. 

Interested in a Daily Faith Boost?

This post comes from a devotional series called 4:00 AM Faith. It is written each morning and sent in a condensed format to several people. If you are interested in receiving a daily faith boost, email me at lmcdonell2001@yahoo.com and specify if you would like it to be sent as email or text, and if phone number, provide the number.