Are you a runner? Running is something I’ve always considered myself terrible at. “I’m not a runner. I will never be a runner.” These are words that have come out of my mouth so many times, you’d think it was a personal mantra of sorts. In high school, when we had to run a timed mile, I was always one of the last to finish. I didn’t understand how anyone could run an entire mile without stopping. It seemed impossible!
Fast forward 6+ years, and I learned something totally new and shocking about myself. I am a runner! Crazy, right? The girl who always struggled to run/walk a mile, that had a cough after running a short distance, that felt like she couldn’t breathe after two minutes of slow jogging….that girl is a runner. You see, I was asked by a couple of friends if I wanted to join in on an upcoming half-marathon. (That’s how this revelation came to be.) I googled how long it takes people to run half-marathons and thought that even the idea of running for 2 hours (or more) seemed ridiculous. How could the person that can’t even run a mile, run 13.1? Psychotic, really.
I was sure I’d be the person to come cheer them on from the sidelines, but after some encouraging words from my mom, I decided I’d give it a try. Now, you might be wondering, “A half-marathon? Where does that come in? The title to this post says 10k.” Well, bear with me, we’re almost there. In order to start training for the half-marathon, which is coming up in a couple of months, I decided to sign up for a 10k and train for that first. The training and starting to run, in general, gave me a whole new mindset. I learned a lot about myself just from trying to learn how to become a runner. (Which, by the way, I’m still working on.) It wasn’t until 10k race day, though, that I realized how much becoming an actual runner had changed my life.
Here are 5 life lessons I’ve learned from running my first 10k:
There is no room for excuses.
This was a tough one. I learned very quickly that if I was going to make it even one mile, I needed to throw my excuses out the window and power through. There were plenty of days I was tired and didn’t want to go for a run. Some weeks, I skipped out on running completely and didn’t make myself workout in between runs…this really impacted my overall ability. When I’d gone a little while without running or exercising then all of a sudden went to run 3 miles, it took no time for my ribs to ache and burn. I was short of breath and I couldn’t run more than a tenth of a mile at a time. If I wanted to be able to make it across any finish line, it became clear that I couldn’t let my excuses get the best of me. The same goes in life. If you want to reach your goals, no matter what those goals are, you have to eliminate your excuses. “I’m too tired. I don’t have enough time. I’m too busy.” Whatever it is, it will only hinder your success. If you want it badly enough, you’ll power through, you’ll make time, you’ll make it a priority.
You can do more than you think.
This lesson? Huge! Like I said before, I never considered myself a runner or that I’d ever be one. The thought made me laugh out loud. Then I ran my first mile. Then my second. Then I ran a whole mile without stopping. Then I made it halfway, at 3.1 miles. And so on and so forth. I finished the 10k race at a faster pace than I had been running, despite the miserable head cold I had. I did that even though I had never imagined it as a possibility! When I trained, I ran in temperatures that were just above 32 degrees. This was a ginormous feat, considering how much I hate the cold. But you know what? I actually enjoyed it! I pushed myself in new ways and discovered new skills. I would have never known that I could run in winter (and like it) or run/walk for a whole hour if I didn’t try at least once in my whole life. You’d be surprised by what you’re capable of! You may think those dreams in your head are just that, dreams, when in fact, they could become your reality someday. You’ll never know until you try. The answer will always be no if you’re too afraid to ask the question.
Small victories are just as important as the big victories.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s still super important to remember along the way. When it came to race day, I knew I wasn’t going to place first, or second, or eighth. Finishing the race at all was a big victory for me! Along the way, though, you better believe I celebrated small victories. I ran a mile and a half without stopping for the first time ever. I ran at a faster pace than normal. I ran more than I walked. These were all small victories that propelled me to the finish line. By recognizing the little things that I was proud to accomplish, I stayed motivated. I kept going when I was tired because I focused on all the little positives I experienced on the way to the end goal. In order to stay motivated to reach your goals, celebrating the small victories is a must! It’s easy to see the end goal and get frustrated because you’re only focused on the big accomplishments. All those small positive actions put together, though, are what make the big accomplishments, the goal crushing, possible.
Just try, see where it takes you.
This one goes along with “you can do more than you think”. This lesson, though, might include failure, but that’s ok. My very first run, I was pretty ambitious. I had been working out consistently and was sure that I could run at least a mile without stopping and go a mile and half, no problem. If I could insert a million laughing emojis here, I so would. That’s how ridiculous that assumption was. I learned very quickly, probably not even half a mile in, that there was no way I was going to do either of those things that day. I ended up walking most of a mile (it took me 18 minutes) and thought I was going to pass out or throw up, whichever came first. Another time, I wanted to see if I could run 4 miles, but had been dealing with a nasty cold. I couldn’t hardly breathe, my throat hurt, it was windy out, I’d had very little sleep, and still, I thought that was the day I’d hit 4 miles. I made it a mile and a half and wondered how I was even going to get home. I had such a horrible cramp in my side, from dehydration I’m sure, that I could hardly breathe or stand upright. Yet, I still had to make it a few more blocks before I was home. I made it home, but the 4 miles had to wait. The point to all this, was that I didn’t hit my goals. I “failed”, in a sense because I didn’t reach the end result I’d planned on. However, I didn’t really fail, because at least I tried! Even when I tried and didn’t make it, I tried again. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you’ll never know until you try. You might not succeed your first try, but the fact that you tried at all, puts you ahead of so many people who are too afraid to take that leap in the first place. Remember: “failing” is really just another way of learning.
If it makes you happy, it’s worth it.
Running has become my escape, my stress relief. It’s my “me time”. The longest I’ve ever run, the 10k race, was an hour and five minutes. That’s really not too much to ask when trying to take a little time to myself. Running in that race, especially after I thought I may have to skip it, was so fun and rewarding. I didn’t feel great the night before and I felt pretty awful the day after, but that hour and five minutes? Totally worth it. The registration fee? Worth it. Not only did it go to a good cause, it allowed me to participate in a race that lowered my anxiety, as well. All the little extra money and time I’ve spent to “be a runner” has all been worth it because it’s something that makes me happy. I always thought it seemed crazy to want to run for a hobby. Seriously, who does that? Turns out I’m one of those crazy people. The point? It doesn’t matter how crazy it seems. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby that might be a little costly or ridiculous to others. Does it make you happy? Does it relieve stress? Do it! Don’t worry about what other people might think. If it serves a positive purpose in your life, make it happen because your happiness is what matters most. When you’re happy, you make those around you happy.
Well, there you have it. The 5 life lessons I learned from running my first race. I’m so excited for the half-marathon in June and many more races to come. Running has filled me with such a fun sense of pride and joy and a way to get some “me time” in my day. When I run, I know I’m a better mom, wife, and person in general. Do you have something that brings that bit of happiness and stress relief to your life? How do these life lessons transfer to your life and goals? I’d love to know, share with me in the comments!