Running teaches us a lot about how much one’s body and mind can endure in demanding situations. But what does it teach us about life? Here are five lessons you may not have considered:
- Listen to your body (and your gut). Get in touch with it. Understanding what real pain is makes you nearly impervious to the small-to-medium pains, and it allows you to push harder than the average person. This translates to more realms than just the physical.
- The mind is powerfully useful, when used properly. A lot of self-talk happens in the mind of runners. You can be your biggest cheerleader or your biggest critic. Repetition and positivity are key in the messages you craft. ‘I can do it,’ ‘I am a gazelle,’ and ‘I am crushing it’ are quick phrases that supply a mega boost of confidence.
- Nothing worth fighting for comes easy. When training hard, long hours, running sometimes goes hand-in-hand with nausea, profuse sweating, cramps, and blisters. What makes it worth it? The rush of endorphins. The strength you build. The knowledge that you are giving everything you’ve got for your health, the love of running, or whatever values keep your legs moving. Medals are nice, too.
- You don’t have to go fast to go far. If you try to sprint the first mile of your 5K race, you will likely get burnt out by the last mile. If you pace it out, you’ll go the same distance but have that kick that helps you finish strong and perhaps place higher. This is a great metaphor for life, in the fast-paced world in which we live. You don’t ‘win’ at life by getting that high-paying job, that large house, that marriage the fastest. You’ll go farther and build greater momentum through testing yourself on different trails, showing up for practice, and committing hard when you’ve fallen in love with what you’re doing.
- The hardest part is getting started. We all know that painful form of anticipation that comes before a big race, or even that early morning jog. You start to doubt your abilities, make up excuses, and talk yourself out of the run. Then, the moment you commit, that fear turns into adrenaline and negative self-talk into motivational phrases. Such as it is with life; the purposeful act of moving towards a finish line feels so much better than just thinking about it.
Whether you’re running marathons, running away or running through your weeks to get to the weekends, take this moment to assess whether you are sprinting through your life, instead of actively building toward something you love. Listen to your gut. Recognize the power of your thoughts, and the true control you have over them. Embrace the difficult moments that come up, for they are character building.