13 years ago, I completed the Boston Marathon. In honor of that, yesterday, I ran a 10k around Chippewa Township. Though I’m not as physically in shape as I was ten years ago, my mentality is stronger than ever.
Here are 5 life lessons I’ve learned from running throughout my life.
- There will almost always be someone better than you.
There have been very few races that I’ve individually won in my life. For most of us runners, running is not our entire identity. We’re parents, workers, adventures, sons and daughters. We’re generally not professional athletes, and that’s okay.
For me, running isn’t about competing against others or achieving a new PR (personal record). Rather, running is about freedom and a time for reflection. It’s about pushing myself to the best I can in a contained period of time. It’s about the sense of pride I get the rest of the day after the run is over.
The race isn’t against anyone else. My run is a deeply personal experience. It’s more of an art form at this point than an athletic event. And will great performing art, don’t want to cheapen that experience by comparing performance.
- Embrace the hills in life
Flat running gets boring over time. Running around a track is nice for a bit, but it loses its sense of novelty quickly. Trail running, however, is a unique experience each time. The seasons change. The terrain changes. The level of challenge is always new and harder to predict.
Similarly, a flat life gets boring. It can feel comfortable at first, but you miss the hills over time. You miss the challenges and the opportunities for your greatest growth.
Hills can look scary when you’re at the bottom of one, but how you mentally label that feeling is up to you. For me, fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment.
Running is a forward-facing sport. Do too much of this, and you end up neglecting your stabilizer muscles and train out of balance. This is why many runners suffer from “runner’s knee.” To counteract this, you must cross-train. You have to incorporate lateral movements into your training to prevent injury.
In life as well, the importance of cross training cannot be understated. Most experts in their fields are not just trained in their lanes, but in other supporting lanes that intersect that make them masters at their craft.
For example, did you that Sidney Crosby can hit a home run out of PNC park? Did you know that Andrew McCutchen was actually a better football player than baseball player, or that Tom Brady was drafted in MLB?
If your goal is to be the best at something, you can’t just do that one thing and expect to be the best. For me, running isn’t a solo activity. It’s part of a lifestyle of fitness that I want to have, not only for myself, but hopefully, to inspire others to embrace as well.
- Running is selfish, but it’s worth the investment
Running is selfish. You didn’t read that wrong. It’s a mostly solo activity that builds up your body and mind, but that ultimately isn’t charity. It isn’t outward-facing, it’s inward facing, and yet, this isn’t a bad thing. Quite the contrary, taking time for yourself fuels you to be more present with others.
Running, and working out in any form, is part of a balanced life. You’re worthy of self-care. Your body is worth taking care of. Take the time to prioritize it, and your mood and your mindset will improve, making it a great return on your investment.
- Your physicality will diminish with time, but your mentality can always continue to improve
The fact is, our bodies peak in their performance in the first third of our lives. Nevertheless, just because they peak, doesn’t mean they’re not worth training anymore.
As I was running yesterday, I can across two very large intimating hills. My younger self, ten years ago, would have looked at these hills with dread and had done all that I could to “get through them.” My current mindset, though, doesn’t look at it that way anymore. Hills are part of life. I can embrace the climb. I can trust there will be a downhill to come. I can take joy in the fact that my greatest gains only come when facing my hardest challenges.
Running isn’t about getting ripped or burning calories. Running isn’t a chore or a burden. Running is about pushing yourself, discovering new abilities you never thought possible, and then translating that confidence into all the other facets of your life.
Here’s to having a smile on your face and a song in your heart for all the rest of your runs to come!