I started running about 7 years ago, and I still remember the very first time that I ran five miles in a row. No stops. It was magical. It was also REALLY hard. I look back on all the time that has passed since then, and all the races, and I realize that running has given me so much more than I thought a physical activity could do. As I was becoming an adult, figuring out who I was then and who I wanted to be, my running journey discreetly helped to guide me here. How awesome is that?!
Here are a few key takeaways that I’ve dug into in the last few years:
- Controlling The Controllable – I’ve learned to only compete against myself, so that I become the best ME.
When I was participating in trampoline and high school sports, I was always competing to WIN, and always landed near the top of the pack. Not winning did happen but it wasn’t something I was thrilled to stand on the podium for. In fact, sometimes I would get 2nd (or…worse!) and tell my Mom that I didn’t even want that award, and we could just go home! She always made me stay, stand up there, smile and be a good sport, because she’s a smart, wonderful mother. However, that outrageous competitive-ness spilled over into a lot of other aspects of my life, and when I look back now, that characteristic was probably annoying!
When I started running, it was humbling. I knew I wasn’t the best. I knew winning was not going to happen. It taught me to set personal goals, time goals, distance goals, etc… instead of relying on a subjective judge to tell me how I stacked up against others. Control the controllable – You can’t do anything about anyone else’s training, speed, nutrition, etc…! Now, I value my successes and accomplished goals as my own personal victories, without feeling compared to the masses of runners, of all shapes, ages, sizes, and experience levels. Even better, once I learned to appreciate that this is a personal journey, I started to get so much enjoyment out of other runner’s successes – faster, slower, longer, or farther than mine – without that bitterness of them “beating” me!
- I Only Have One Body – Running taught me so much about health!
I started running because I was so afraid of the “Freshman 15.” Even though I was still doing trampoline, it was less often, I was eating out with friends, just buying cheap snacks to get me through the next pay check and, you know, making typical college student food (yes, and beverage) choices.
Because I was just doing it to avoid gaining weight, running sucked at first. I wasn’t paying attention to hydration, getting any nutrients, etc… It wasn’t until someone talked me into running races that I looked up training plans and started reading about all the best foods for people who run. It didn’t stop there, though. Although I have a huge sweet tooth (ask anyone) and you will not see me turn down a bowl of ice cream, I began to focus on making my meals as wholesome as I can. The runs stopped sucking, my paces got faster, the fatigue went away, and I became so much more educated about the types of things we should be putting into our bodies… But, I digress. We all can read about what we should be eating instead of what we currently do eat. 😉
- I Genuinely Love The Human Race – However, runners might just be my favorite group of humans.
Many people believe that humans just aren’t good at heart. The news tells us that we kill, torture, and steal from each other. Media also tells us that bad things are happening all over, and we have to prepare for it to happen here. What it never tells us about, though, are the people who cheer complete strangers across a finish line, or those who would literally pick someone’s sweaty body up if it were about to pass out. Runners motivate, help, save, give their all to other runners even when it might cost them a PR. So do people outside of running.
Anyway, I just think the running community reminded me that there are always more good guys than bad. There will always be more people there to push you to be your best, than who want to bring you down. They’ve inspired me to be that kind of smiling, inspiring, motivating individual who leaves other people feeling better than when I found them, and who always believes the best in them. Thank you, runners everywhere, seriously!
I feel as though there may be a list of 20 million fantastic things, that have made me better, within that list of three but you get it. I think runners honestly feel like they’re one big team. And, I’m so thrilled to be on it. I hope and pray that I am healthy enough to run through all the seasons of my life, but I’m remembering to be thankful that I get to run now, even if it doesn’t end up being forever. 😉
This week was another great week. The sun is out, the temperatures are up and it looks like Spring is here today. I told you it was going to arrive on time. :p
Final Thought: I can’t think of one other non-person “thing” in my life that gives me so much, without taking even more from me in return. Your job, daily tasks, never-ending bills, and your acquaintances can all take more from you than you get back sometimes. Running is definitely that joy that gives me a much bigger ROI (I worked in sales). The fatigue and sore muscles – those are all GOOD things that it gives us – building strength for future trials (runs)!
Who/ What in your life gives you the best return on how much you put into it? They should probably get a hug today!