Running has taught me so many things over the years. I originally turned to running to get in shape as I entered my early thirty’s and was finishing grad school. Looking back on how far I’ve come, I’m so amazed that I’ve gone from couch potato to becoming an athlete. I should also point out that I’m not a natural athlete by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t walk out the door one day and immediately fall in love with running. But I set my goal on running a 5k without walking. I had no time goal, just the simple goal of running (more like slow jogging) an entire 3.1 miles. It was a lofty goal at the time. Now I’ve got quite an extensive running history and a collection of medals (and faster times) and I’ve realized that running has shaped me into the person that I am now and I can honestly say that I would have never expected to be a 40-something marathoner! If you want to read more of the details about my running journey, you can read about my journey from 5k to 50k here and here. But for this point, I wanted to explain some of the lessons that running has taught me that help me get through life.
1. There are always ups and down – in life and in racing. Sometimes you feel great and other times you want to quit. The the feeling always passes. All you have to do is keep going. You’ll eventually make it to the finish line and the victory will be sweet.
2. You get out of it what you put in. Again, life parallels running in so many ways. When training for a marathon, I have to put in the miles and the cross training as well as eat right and get plenty of rest. Even when I’m not training, it’s important to keep running and take care of my body so that I’m ready for the next training program. In life, we have to put the effort into taking care of ourselves, our families and nurturing our relationships. If you don’t put some level of effort into these things, they may not be there when you need them. My best advice is to keep learning and growing and you’ll see great things come from it.
3. Keep moving. Even when it’s tough and you’re tired. If you’ve ever run a race, you’ll understand how tough it can get and you want to quit. Sometimes life feels just as tough but it’s important to keep moving. One step in front of the other will get you there and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are going. You’ll eventually get there as long as you keep moving forward.
4. You are stronger than you know. You can accomplish anything no matter how big of a challenge it might seem to be. Some days are tough. You know those days – the ones where you feel weak and that you can’t make it. The truth is that you’re stronger than you give yourself credit for and you can reach your goals. Even when things are tough – remember that you can do this!
5. Your support team is important. This may actually be the most important lesson I’ve learned over the years. Not everyone in my life understands why I enjoy running but they support me. I wouldn’t have been able to train as hard as I have or to achieve so many of my goals. Surrounding yourself with people that love and support you can make a world of difference to your own success. If you’re not sure about the type of people, check out this article about surrounding yourself with the right type of people.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over time? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!