Ya’ll know me – I’m slightly obsessed with running.
But I haven’t always been. Long long ago (not in a galaxy far, far away), I had no desire to run. I was content to sit on my couch at night and not do a thing. All I wanted to do on a Saturday morning was snuggle deep under the covers and block out the super bright sun. And I certainly didn’t mind partaking in a few beverages on a Friday or Saturday night because hey – I had no early morning plans.
So what changed? What caused me to stop drinking on the weekends; to toss the covers aside and hop out of bed; to not feel complete until my feet hit the pavement?
A lot, actually. I went from being a scared, anxious, obsessive person who couldn’t let things go that happened at work to being a strong individual with goals. Not that I didn’t have goals before, but for once these goals were attainable.
Why? Because I could control them.
No more of the wishing and hoping that others would follow through. No more praying on my hands and knees to give me something that I felt I needed in order to make my life complete. No wonder whining and pining, waiting for the day that everything would magically fall into place.
That’s not real life. So I guess you could say that in the last year, life slapped me across the booty and said, “hey – wake up! There’s more for you to do here than this rubbish of crying and wishing.”
And for once, I listened.
Now running certainly isn’t for everybody, so I’m not suggesting when life slaps you across the booty that you start running. But for me, it was my means of escape from the chains that bound me – OCD thoughts, anxiety, anger, stress, and depression. And while at first it may have seemed like I was escaping my problems, I was actually running head first into them. And sometimes – that’s what you have to do to learn.
Over the past year, running has become an integral part of my life. When I first started, running was my stress outlet after a long day of work. Instead of obsessing over that conversation that just didn’t go well, I would run and clear my head. Over time, running was my solitude and time to think when my marriage was beginning to unravel. I would spend those morning hours contemplating how to handle situations differently the next time they arose so that there was less anger and anxiety. When I moved away, running became my regiment to keep me sane: wake-up, workout, run, go to work, come home, cook dinner, read/write, sleep, repeat. When I was going through the depths of despair, running is the only thing that kept me going each day; without it I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of bed each the morning. As spring began to bloom and I began to feel fresh and new, running began to fuel new dreams that I’d never considered (or thought possible).
All this – in just fourteen months.
So as you can see, running hasn’t been all about getting healthy or staying fit or losing weight. While it started out as that (I wanted to lose 15 lbs.), running went from something I had to do to something I wanted to do.
But you know what’s even crazier than that?! How many life lessons running has taught me. I have been contemplating this topic for several weeks now and once I began jotting down ideas, they just didn’t seem to stop! But for today, we’ll keep it sweet, simple, short (somewhat), and to the point.
~ 7 Things Running Has Taught Me ~
No matter what happens, it’s just one event
It’s just one run. It’s just one race. It doesn’t define who you are. There’s this amazing thing called time which propels us forward, even when we don’t want to, allowing us to start over fresh every 24 hours. So what if you bombed that 5K and didn’t PR. You have the opportunity to redo the next day or the next race. One mistake or bad moment doesn’t define you forever, so stop overanalyzing and treating like so.
You can’t NOT take care of yourself and expect to perform 100%
You can’t expect to get 2 hours of sleep and then run a PR whether it’s a 5K or a half marathon. Just like you can’t expect to fully function at your best after only having 2 hours of sleep. You’re going to get tired, you’re going to nod off, and you’re going to be distracted. You’re going to dwell more on negative thoughts of “I can’t” or “I won’t be able to” versus focusing on the positive and pushing yourself to do your best. Put yourself first and your body will back you up!
Pay attention to what you’re putting into your body
Food is fuel and energy, and whatever you put into it is what you will get out of it. If I feed myself crap, I’m going to feel like crap. If I eat really crappy foods that I know my stomach can’t fully digest, I am not going to feel great while running because 9 times out of 10, that crap is still in my body and I’m lugging it around, up and down as I jog. No matter how you look at it, the big bowl of ice cream or cheesy macaroni and cheese doesn’t feel that great lobbing itself up and down within your stomach cavity. The same goes for everyday life. Feeding yourself candy, greasy foods, and sodas – while in the moment may taste amazing – aren’t helping your body. And your body knows it and often slows down because it either doesn’t know how to process it or literally can’t digest what you’re giving it. And when your digestion begins to shut down, everything begins to suffer. Your attention; your mood; your energy – it all requires energy and without it, these systems shut down.
Change is inevitable
Whether it’s good or bad – it’s all in the eyes of the beholder! Ever since we were placed upon this planet, we’ve been experiencing change. Who would we be as a human race and a planet if we weren’t changing, constantly evolving and adapting to meet the new requirements around us? As any history teacher can tell you, those who refuse to change often are left behind and forgotten. If you push back against change and are stubborn, how can you expect to grow? How can you expect to be remembered? How can you expect to survive?
You’re not going to win or be the best at everything
Hell, you may never win anything, but is that the point of life? Are you just doing things and going through the motions in order to win some prizes that you deemed was is the one thing that you need in order to be happy? Is there really only one thing in life that could make you happy? The only person you need to beat is yourself, and if you show up every day and give it 100%, I say you’ve succeeded.
Nobody is the same as you
Let me repeat that – nobody is the same as you, so there’s no point in comparing yourself. Nobody was born as you; nobody’s had the same experiences as you; nobody is on the same path as you… Just because somebody is running the race next to you doesn’t mean that you should compare yourself to them. Everybody has their own journey that they’re on and their own set of experiences… That’s what makes us each unique and so precious. The same applies to real life. Everyone is on their own personal journey, and it’s OK to now be doing the same thing as someone else. The world needs your you-ness in order to be a brighter place. What would the world be like if we all dressed the same, talked the same, and had the same thoughts? We probably wouldn’t have very many of the first world conveniences that we’re so used to like electricity, refrigerators, or even automobiles!
Thoughts are reality
I don’t care how you look at it… The thoughts and energy that you bring to the road that you’re running every day influences how that run is going to go. If you bring positive thoughts and energy, then you’re going to have a more positive run. If you view the run as something that you have to get through and you just go through the motions in order to get it over with, you’re more likely to find fault and frustration with your run. The same goes for life. The more negative your outlook, the more often you will find judgment, faults, and frustration with everything that shows up. But if you can take a moment to step back and try to view every situation with some sort of positivity, you will be amazed at how your world will brighten just a smidgen each day.