For anyone that knows me well, I’ve had an on-and-off, love-hate relationship that’s been going on for about eight years now. There are days when I love my ‘significant other’ and can’t get enough and there are days which I hate said ‘significant other’ and would do anything to avoid them. This relationship is with distance running.
I get it, I really do – who actually likes to run? It’s painful. It hurts. It wreaks havoc on your knees. You’re doing the same motion for miles and miles. Like I said, there are days on which I’d give pretty much any excuse not to run. However, on the days in which running and I connect…
It can be magic.
Over my years of battling the beast that is distance running, I’ve picked up that dedicating yourself to the sport can do more than just improve your physical well-being. I’ve learned more from myself out on the trails, bike paths, and sidewalks than I’ll ever learn in a classroom – lessons that not only contribute to better and more successful running, but to everyday life as well. Here’s just a handful of the lessons I’ve learned over the years of pounding the pavement.
1. You will always be your strongest competitor and cheerleader.
There is no one who is going to make or break you more than yourself. Whether you’re fighting your way up a huge hill on a run or you’re preparing yourself for that presentation that could potentially launch your career, your inner conscience is going to be the one that yells at you to fight, to perform, to be your best. Because no matter what, other people are going to tell you it’s okay, you did your best. No one knows you better than yourself. You know if you’ve given your all, if you’ve completely given yourself to the challenge at hand.
2. The right pair of shoes is always essential.
This one’s pretty straight-forward from a running stance. If you don’t have the pair of running shoes that mesh to your feet and give you all of the needed support, you’re simply subjecting yourself to injury. However, I’ve noticed that this plays into everyday life as well – as a woman, the right pair of shoes are going to carry you wherever it is you desire to go. It’s all about the confidence the shoe gives you. Slip into the right pair of running shoes and you feel like you can run a marathon; sip on a pair of heels and you’re definitely going to nail that interview.
3. Getting lost can be therapeutic.
Everyone has their own ways to deal with stress: read a book, see a movie, take a nap. Whatever works for you is great. For me, my release comes from running and simply getting lost. Take a trail you’ve never taken, get muddy. Take a left turn instead of a right one and see where it takes you. Discovering new places and sights can really cure a bad day. Even if you’re not a runner, this can be used for you as well: try a new coffee place, take a different route home. I promise, it’ll do wonders.
4. Exerting stress into exercise is more beneficial than venting to your BFF.
I completely admit that I’m a venter. Honestly though, what good does it do? All venting does is allow you to talk talk talk about whatever has been bothering you, which then gets you more wound up about it. Exercise such as running, on the other hand, allows you to literally take everything that has built up inside and burn it off. There have been so many times that I’ve been upset and gone on a run, only to finish with a faster time for the given route than ever before. Also, let’s be real: 99.9% of the time, girls are venting about boys, right? Exercising allows you to work towards a physique that will make him cry. Hello, sweet payback.
5. Facing challenges is the most empowering experience out there.
Whether the challenge is your long run or not, take a second and think about the last time you felt truly empowered. Was it when your boyfriend told you that you looked good today? Was it when your roommate told you that the apartment needs cleaned? Was it when your friend complimented your shoes? I can guarantee it wasn’t. I would be willing to bet that the last time you felt empowered was when you overcame a challenge yourself and achieved something that you did not think possible. If it’s taking on an six mile run instead of five or finally asking your boss for a raise, only you can push yourself to face the challenges that come in the fine print of life.