Running has taught me a lot of things…one is that if I am being chased, I best find a hiding spot.
I started running about seven years ago and I am not really sure why. Running just seemed to be the thing to do, and although I never thought I could run, I gave it a try. I started with a couch to 5K app, and kept challenging myself over the years to the point that now I regularly train for half-marathons.
I definitely don’t run because I think it is fun. I run because I like to eat. I run because I feel good when I am done running. I also run because it is a mental challenge for me, and because it has taught me a lot about myself. I have found running to be a metaphor for life.
So much of life is actually just a mental game. When I first started running, I couldn’t imagine running for twenty minutes. When I was training for a half-marathon, seven miles seemed so long, but then I was running eight, then nine, etc. until I was running over thirteen miles.
You know how it is, after you are running as much as thirteen miles, a six-miler seems like easy street. The crazy thing is that when I set out on a quick three-mile run, I am tired and ready to be done at the end of the three miles. But, when I set out for a six-mile run, I am going strong as I finish mile three, ready for more. If you dream it, you maybe can do it. If you determine to make it happen, and you are willing to put in the hard work, you definitely can do it.
Running has taught me that mental perseverance, patience, and just putting one foot in front of another can take you the distance. With any hard work, what is happening in the moment can seem so hard, but just holding out, pushing a little harder, results in gratification that is so worth it.
I also learned the power of negative thinking, and the toll it takes on your body physically. There are so many times where I was running down the road and found myself drifting into self-defeating and negative thoughts–about money, about future goals, about a challenge at school, whatever it might be–and all of a sudden I physically could not run anymore. I would have to take a walking break. I am aware of that problem now, and I can quickly identify the destructive path of my thoughts and turn my thinking around so I am focusing on problem-solving and what I can control.
Running is my meditation. I am a storyteller when I run, I tell the story of events in my life, and think through them from different perspectives. I dream about the future and set goals. I find myself “saving” something to think about for my next run. When I am not running as much, I notice that I have not been as reflective. I need processing time, and the distraction my reflection provides helps me forget how much I don’t like running.
I am not superwoman, but running has taught me that I can accomplish almost anything. I have the grit, and I know the recipe. Getting a little better each day–going just a little further–can help me reach goals that at one time seemed impossible. When I am training for a long race, I don’t just bound out of the house and run thirteen miles. I start with five, then go to six. Maybe then I will stay at six for a couple weeks before moving up to seven. Slow and steady wins my race.
Being slow is okay—I may be slow, but I am thoughtful and calculating. I am a critical thinker and need processing time, but in the end, I will have looked at a problem from many angles and perspectives, which will lead to a better result. Taking the necessary time to think through things also helps me not act upon my emotions–to analyze things more objectively.
Although I am not really sure why I started running, I am thankful that I did. I am stronger than I thought I was and running has helped me hone me a mental strength that I didn’t know I was capable of. Although at times I consider switching my exercise of choice, I don’t want to lose the lessons that running has taught me. So I imagine that whether I like it or not, I will continue running for as long as I am able.