running life lessons
Since running has been such a big part of my life recently, I started thinking how my own habits, tactics, and lessons learned while training can be applied to other areas of life. And I came up with a couple. Have at em!
It’s not always a numbers game
Once I started using a garmin, I entered the scary, yet rewarding world of “data.” And it absolutely made me a better runner. And yet, some of my best runs have been without a watch, where I was freed from the constraints of having to hit a certain time or pace. This absolutely applies outside the runner’s world, too. Numbers — salaries, weight, twitter followers, passport stamps, what have you — these numbers, while maybe a source of inspiration, do not define you.
Discomfort is okay
One of the most important things I’ve learned from running is being open to discomfort and pain. It may sound of strange, but it’s true: Once I allowed myself to embrace feeing uncomfortable during tough workouts (rather than freaking out) I found myself getting faster. (WHO KNEW). And so it goes with life — putting yourself in situations where you don’t always feel incredibly confident or comfortable will only make you stronger.
Rest equals strength
Speaking of strength, runners also need to take avid time off to recover in order to hop into the next workout feeling better than ever. IRL, the same can be applied: Solid R&R is so important to help feel rejuvenated and regain fresh energy.
You’ll surprise yourself
About one year ago I ran my first 20-miler. And now I’m running them almost every weekend. I used to never feel like I was built for endurance, but now I feel more and more comfortable with long distance training by the day. Basically, you never know what you’re truly capable of unless you try. So…try! Something. Anything. You’ll be surprised.
The first few steps are in your control
Maybe this is just me, but I can literally tell how a run is going to go by those first few steps. And I really think it’s all mental: If my head’s in a good spot for that first half mile, then I’m good to go for the rest of the run. And when I wake up in the morning, I’m allowed those same first few steps. I have a choice to set how the rest of my day is going to go.
It gets easier
On the flip side, some runs start out pretty rocky. And yet I almost ALWAYS hit a turnaround point where I feel better. For some reason, mile six is my sweet spot, and is usually when I finally settle into a groove and pick up the pace. So remember that for the ol’ non-running life: things can start off rough, but that doesn’t set the precedence for the rest of your day, year, lifetime — however you want to look at it.
Hills have their advantage
Hills make the best metaphors, right? Anyhow, I grew up in a really hilly town and our XC course had one of the most challenging courses in NY state (with the infamous cardiac hill). So throughout the years, I’ve learned to love them, and I know I can use hills to my advantage when I’m racing. So embrace the “uphill battle” in life situations. Cause guess what? It’s smooth (and sparkly?) sailing down the other side.
You can’t always go all-out
If you ran at tempo pace every day, well…that’d be stupid. You can’t give an all-out effort everyday in your training, and that same goes with life. It’s impossible to dole out all of your energy to every single part of your life. You’ll explode.
Taking care of yourself is key
Runners have to take special care of themselves‚ foam rolling, icing, stretching, mega-carb consuming, etc — in order to stay on their A-game. This applies elsewhere, too. People need to check in with themselves to see what they need to feel happy and clearheaded. (A mental health day, home-cooked meal, a girls night out, a bag of pretzel M&Ms…)
Materials can motivate
Lemme tell ya, a new pair of running shorts can make me WAY more eager to go for a run. Sometimes you can find (and deserve!) a little motivation in the form of material possessions for any area of life: a new notebook, outfit, kitchen gadget, etc. Let Amazon get those creative juices flowing.
You can’t go at it alone
While I pretty much train on my own, I could never keep it up if I didn’t have the community by my side. And the same goes with life. You need other people to help push you, support you, and inspire you. And go to da club with you.