4 Major Life Truths Running Has Taught Me
I started running in college and I had zero idea how many gifts the sport would continue to give me. I never ran with a team, or trained with a coach (although I did get certified as a coach myself), I just picked it up and never put it down.
When I moved to Chicago in 2008 I truly fell in love with it. I had run one half-marathon at that point, but running culture is strong there and I did my first marathon in 2010, leading to 6 more by early 2016. For various reasons, a big one being that I became a mama and my priorities changed, I cut back to only once or so a week. And still I continue to realize that concepts I learned from being a runner help me be a better human.
Here are 4 cliche truths that running helped me grasp in a super tangible way:
Run Your Own Race
When I started using this as a mantra, I was taking the words quite literally. I would line up at the start and as soon as I crossed the line, everything felt chaotic. You have no idea what your comfortable pace is because you’re in a thick crowd and literally go with the flow.
I started focusing on how I felt, what my watch was saying (the pace I was at primarily), and committed to keeping the pace I knew from training solo was best for me. I would repeat this in my head when I felt the urge to pass someone even when it was early and I knew I was pushing a bit too hard. I kept this in my head when it felt a little too comfortable to hang with those around me.
Now I find myself applying this to my business and so many other things. If I see another coach like myself hosting a workshop and posting 5 times a week, AND running a Facebook challenge, it can feel tempting to add more to my plate. Instead, I remind myself that I’m running my own race and that is not the pace I want to go.
Another side of this is comparison. I will never forget a Thanksgiving Day 5 miler I did. My mom was spectating and when I finished she said she ran into a friend who told her, “I’m waiting for my son. I don’t know why he runs these things, he never wins.”
Yeah lady, most of us don’t! With running, and with life, it is a major buzzkill to feel accomplished only when you beat everyone else. Honestly, I would rather place 195th and beat my best time than to be in the top 10 with a time I’d achieved before.
The lesson here is that the best way to measure your progress is by measuring it against yourself. Maybe you aren’t the top earner in your company, but are you making more sales than you were last year? That is what really shows improvement, and that is where true confidence is better off coming from.
Stop Qualifiying Your Success
I have heard so many people diminish their running by saying things like, “Well, I run but I’m not like fast“. Or, “I run, but I haven’t run a Marathon.” We add a lot of qualifiers and I am guilty of it, too. I am better at catching it now after noticing it like a red flag in running. I finally won First Female Overall in a 5K and whenever it comes up, I add, “It was a super small race.”
Stop it! I got first and it counts. To those who say you don’t run races, or you only run once a week, or you never go over 3 miles…you are a runner. If you lace up and go for a run, you are a runner.
This applies to all of life. I have felt myself wanting to put an asterisk next to Motherhood. “Well, I only have one, so it’s not that hard.” Guys. This shit is hard no matter how many you have. It does not matter if you are a step-mother, mother through IVF, surrogacy, adoption, you have one or four, etc. Your motherhood is as valid as anyone’s.
Read This: My IVF Story
How about when you’re new to an industry. When I first started coaching I felt, once again, the need to qualify. “I just started, I mean I’ve only had 2 clients.” I promise the impact you have on those clients does not depend on them being your first and second or your hundredth and hundredth and first.
Stay in the Moment, Not in What’s Ahead
Yes, this is incredibly cliche, however, I applied it so intensely while running Half-Marathons and especially Marathons that it stuck with me in a tangible way. I knew that if in miles 1-10 I started thinking about how many more miles I had to go, it was going to feel not only defeating, but that’s when anxious thoughts would creep in.
I knew that I could not look at how much was ahead of me and repeated like a mantra the miles I was able to grasp. For me, in a Marathon, that meant a good chunk in the beginning even looking at 10 miles ahead of me But, when I hit 15 miles I only focused on getting to 20. From there it was a mile at a time, and if that felt like a lot, I brought it back to a half-mile. Just focus on this half-mile.
Read This: How to Start Running
I’ve noticed I now naturally take the same approach with life. When COVID first hit, I focused on getting through the first 2 weeks that my son’s school and all our routine places were closed. When we understood there was no clear end in sight that felt very claustrophobic to me, so I focused on April. I brought my attention to getting to the end of April and then I would allow myself to entertain May. That is just one of many examples that has helped me make a shift in how I perceive time.
Practice Makes Perfect
I have gone down some epic rabbit holes around running. Whenever I had a PR goal (personal record, beating my best time), I would pour over different training plans, types of speedwork, optimal pre and postworkout foods, you name it. While all of these tactics hold value, the #1 thing I actually needed to do was to run more steady-state (comfortably paced) miles.
Of course, speed work will help make you faster and all the other bells and whistles can give you a boost, but the biggest piece that felt too boring and simple that I didn’t give it much credit, was to just get out there and run more.
This, of course, applies to anything you want to get better at.
Do you want to get better at writing? There are writing prompts you can do and courses you can take, but simply writing more is going to be what gives you confidence and helps you find your voice.
Getting better at meditating is going to require a consistent meditation practice. You could take a course, research the best apps, and read about how to be a better meditator (is that a word 🤷♀️) but doing 5 minutes every morning will make you better.
Read This: 5 Apps to Build a Meditation Habit
We get stuck in this mindset so often. Searching for the best way to increase our competencies, and end up wasting time and energy that could be spent just doing the damn thing!
This list almost seems endless, with little reminders from running popping up all the time. These are the core few I continue to come back to. Again, many are cliche, but when I applied it to a sport I loved, it all truly clicked.
What cliche suddenly made sense to you after applying it in a different way? Tell me in the comments!