Rather than show pictures of and talk about food today (which is like my favorite thing to do), I want to talk about another part of health and another love of mine: Running.
I wasn’t always a “runner.” I only ran as part of the other sports I played, like soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. Towards the end of high school, I started running lightly around my neighborhood, but nothing consistent or hobbyish. After finishing my college career in softball, I wanted to find another way to stay active, and I started to take a stronger interest in running. The more I did it, the more I started liking it. I found it peaceful and relaxing, and I found that it provided a personal outlet to help cope with anxiety from other parts of life.
After college, I met a boy who was a college cross country/track and field coach. We started dating and fast forward 7 years; he is now my husband. We would run together and running then developed into a hobby for me moreso than it ever was.
Do I consider myself a runner now? 100%. While I haven’t yet run a marathon, I’ve run 4 half marathons and numerous shorter races. I still enjoy the high you can get from running, and the epinephrine release. I run about 30 miles a week because that’s what I’m comfortable with and that’s what fits my lifestyle. There are days that I feel great, while others I feel in a rut. Just like anything with life; you take the good with the bad.
I think running can parallel life so much, and today I feel inspired to discuss how running has shaped me. Here are some important things I’ve learned through running:
The Importance of Goal Setting – Whether you start running to lose weight, to train for a 5K, to improve your cardiovascular health, to spend time with your partner, to increase your health, etc. there’s an end goal in mind. Similar to life, you want to have goals to accomplish and create reasons why and how you’re going to reach them.
Work Ethic – What you put in is what you’ll get in return. Putting in those track workouts once a week? You’re probably going to get faster. The early bird gets the worm. If you’re motivated to do something, go do it!
I have found my stress outlet – For me, running just helps clear the mind. I suggest everyone have a few different outlets to go to for stress, whether it be exercise, reading, yoga, sewing, meditating, cooking, talking to loved ones, etc. There will always be stressors in our lives, and having a way to deal with them is paramount, rather than having to turn to negative habits.
Preparation is necessary – You wouldn’t go out for a long run without thinking about fueling; whether it be with a pre-run snack, some water, some gels/snacks, headphones, sneakers, etc. Similarly, you need to set yourself up for the best options in life. Put yourself in a good position, and start thinking about how you can get there. Prepare for encounters and experiences to better yourself.
Not everything you do should be easy (or pretty) – Obviously, there are days I don’t run, and days I don’t WANT to run. Some runs I feel like crap. Sometimes I end up walking. But that’s part of life and seeing the whole picture – those runs are the times I figure out my limits, listen to my body, and really come out of them with a stronger appreciation and a better attitude.
Don’t depend on others to get the job done – Take initiative and do things yourself. You’re not going to get credit for runs that others complete, so why would you take credit for work you don’t complete or relationships you don’t nurture?
Support others to get reciprocal encouragement – If you run, you’ve probably nodded or waved to another runner passing by. Generally, runners are pretty friendly with this, although I will say, some places moreso than others. It’s the way of saying, “Hey, I appreciate what you’re doing and being out here today. I applaud your efforts.” Support your friends and family in any way you can, because there will be times when you’re going to need it back. Knowing you can be there for others and having others to count on is an unmatched feeling.
There’s no Right Path – Run your race; determine your life. Run it at your own pace. Take shortcuts here and there and learn from them. Stray off the path, get lost, ask for directions, but in the end, you’ll find your way. There’s no right path to run or right life to live; just live one that works for you and makes you happy. If you love running the same loop every day, go for it. Don’t let others sway you and do what makes you happy.
Celebrate your accomplishments – You worked hard! Cut yourself some slack. Treat yourself. Life isn’t about all work and no play. Rather than harping on the things you haven’t accomplished yet or drowning in your mistakes, recognize what you HAVE accomplished, take pride in your efforts and be proud of yourself. On the same note, take time to celebrate others’ accomplishments also.
Stop and Smell the Roses – I feel fortunate to have been able to explore some pretty cool places through running, whether it be amazing trails that give way to wide open views, sunsets, or some impressive neighborhoods that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I’ve stumbled upon hidden rose gardens, beaches, speakeasy bars, cute cafes and coffee shops that I never would have known about otherwise. To me, running around new places is the ideal way to explore and it really makes me appreciate the beauty in life’s smaller, unnoticed things. Just like each run is a new one with new scenery and new factors since the last run, each day is a new slate to enjoy.
Those are just some of many reasons why I run.
What Has Running or any form of Exercise Taught You?
How do you deal with stressful situations?