Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lessons From Running

I'm a giant running nerd and I have no problem admitting it. Running makes me happy, but I'll be the first to say running didn't always make me happy. Heck I still have days when I get so frustrated because I'm fighting the wind, or my pacing is terrible, etc. However, I've come to love running and I mean really that. There's something really special about running that makes me feel genuinely happy and sets my soul on fire.

Running has also taught me so much. I've learned more about myself by running than through anything else. It's broken down my pride but it's also made me more confident. I really could talk my love for running for a very long time, but I want to share some of the lessons I've learned from running that apply to everyday life. 

1. There are good days and not so good days. Some runs feel effortless and everything is going right. My pacing is awesome, the weather is perfect, I'm not in pain, and I'm genuinely loving every step. Then there are days (like Sunday) when it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong. I was fighting strong winds, my pacing was terrible, my quad was hurting from lupus pain, and I was so dang frustrated. I stopped stretched out but still my quad was hurting and I was so frustrated with the wind I was almost crying. But one really good run makes me forget every bad run and makes it all worth it.

2. Hard work pays off. Running isn't all fun and games and like I said before there are good days and bad days, but all the work you put in will pay off. The early morning runs, the runs where you didn't think you could go one more step, and the runs where you pushed yourself beyond what you thought possible will all make you a better runner. You get out what you put into running. I'm always striving to be better so I combine strength training with speed work with regular training runs, and in the past few months I've seen so much progress. My pacing has gotten faster, I feel stronger, and I'm genuinely loving running more. Put in the work and you will reap success, maybe not instantly but down the road. 

3. The first step is always the hardest. I really don't know why it is but it's so true. Every morning when I step out my door or onto the treadmill there's always that instant where my brain is like, "WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!" Once I get going that thought goes away and I'm focused on the finish line. 

4. Running is the cheapest form of therapy. Running causes a flood of emotions; sometimes there's joy, sometimes there's frustration, but it's also the best way to get out emotion. Whenever I'm working through something my go to is always a run. If I'm angry or hurt I'll lace up and pound the crap out of the pavement, pushing myself to the limit on pacing, and pushing myself until I can't go one more step. If I'm happy my steps are light, my pace is just enough to push myself but still feel comfortable, and I'm loving every step. I've run with the biggest, cheesiest smile on my face and I've run with tears streaming down my face. Running allows me the space to clear my head and focus. Nothing beats soaking up some vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and just focusing on putting one step in front of the other. 

5. Running allows you to see more places than you'd ever see in a car. When I go on vacation I love to go running because it allows me to explore a new place. I saw more sights running in Hawaii than I ever would have seen had I just set out in a car. A lot of places are inaccessible by car but when you set out on foot they're easily accessible. It's also a fantastic way to meet locals. 

6. You meet some really awesome people. Everywhere I have gone and run I've meet tons of awesome people. Runners tend to be a friendly bunch of people. I always run in the morning right around sunrise so I saw the same people almost every day. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to some of them and get to hear some of their stories. Running is a fantastic way to meet people because you already have something in common, you both run! It's also a great way to find a running buddy- someone who will keep you accountable to getting up and lacing up. Running with someone tends to make the miles go by faster and running feel easier because you're focusing more on conversation and less on the actual run.

7. You'll learn you are stronger than you ever imagined. There will be days when a run breaks you and you feel like you cannot go on, but something inside of you doesn't want to quit. When you push past that barrier and dig in even though your body is tired and your mind is screaming at you to stop you will learn that you are so much stronger than you ever thought possible. 

8. Running is a quick way to swallow your pride. Think you're really awesome? Go for a run. You'll quickly learn that you are in no way an extraordinary human being. You are at the mercy of weather conditions, your body, and often fellow runners. No matter what there is always going to be someone who is a better runner than you (unless you're an Olympic gold medalist). 

9. Your only competition is yourself. While it's true there are always going to be people who are better than you, your only true competition when running is yourself. PR's exist for a reason- to be beaten. Set goals for yourself and then crush them. Focus on beating yourself not others.

10. Run because you love your body not because you hate it. Fitness is such a personal thing and not everyone is going to love and that's ok. If you keep trying and never like running then maybe it's not your thing and that's totally ok! Find something you love and do it. I run because I genuinely love running. I love running in the morning so I can watch the sunrise and watch the world come to life. I love feeling the wind in my face, soaking up sunshine, and pushing myself to go further and faster. I run because I love my body. I have a chronic disease and I want to take care of my body because I'd like to be around for awhile. I run because I love how strong it makes my body feel. Run for the love of it.

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