He used to scoff at “runners” until he noticed that they seemed to have something that he wanted. And it wasn’t just health.
I started running about four years ago. I remember before I started running I would see those “runners” going up and down my street and I never understood it, I thought it was overrated, I thought it was, simply put, dumb. I never understood and I never would.
Then I found myself at twenty years old, overweight, out of shape, eating pizza and Chinese takeout almost every other night and not happy. One thing I did notice about those people, those “runners,” they looked happy. They looked like they had so many things that I never had. I had always fooled myself into thinking I didn’t want anything more out of life and I was happy with the way things were. The truth was that I wasn’t happy. Rather, I was comfortable, I was content, but to be happy I needed to do something I’d never done before.
The next week I decided I was going to be a runner. So like any sane person attempting something brand new, I went about it in the most difficult way possible. I woke up at five a.m. and went for my very first run. Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I would’ve have never thought that I would learn more life lessons from running than anything else in my entire life. As I started running. I felt a sense of freedom that I never really felt before, not the kind of freedom that allows to say whatever you want on your Facebook page. No, this freedom was quite different. It was something that I yearned for, yet could never really find. It occurred to me that I was going to like this running thing.
Two months later I was a full-blown addict. I went out and bought some official running gear. I didn’t care what the weather looked like: rain, sleet, or snow. I was going out there and I was running. I wasn’t running because I wanted to be fit. I was running for my life. Because up until this point everything had become comfortable. Nothing was challenging me anymore. I wasn’t really living; I was just letting the time go by. I wasn’t running after life, It was running away from me.
I noticed subtle changes in my attitude as the months went by. I gained more confidence in every aspect of my life. I made smarter decisions. I felt more focused. I had more energy. When I talked to people, I looked them straight in the eye. When I made decisions, I stuck with them. I didn’t question myself so much. For the first time, I was committed to something. I didn’t have one foot in the door and one out. Before, I struggled to commit to anything, especially to myself. I knew what I was made of now, I wasn’t just a guy who thought of life as an escalator, slowly ascending while staying in the same place and never trying to move forward at your own pace. I ran after the things I wanted.
All this being said, life is far from perfect. I still have a long way to go before I feel like the person I want to be. We all do, honestly. I believe knowledge needs to be shared in order for human beings to grow and society to move forward. That’s why I want to share what running has taught me about life.
1. Run at your own pace.
I ran with a friend at one point. He had been running for a much longer time than I had, yet I tried to keep up with his pace. I ended up having a terrible run and feeling exhausted and defeated. The next time I ran, I did it at a pace that felt comfortable for me, and it ended up being one of the longest runs I ever did. Stop comparing yourself to other people’s achievements and take life at your own pace. You’ll be shocked at how much farther you go when you’re not constantly looking over your shoulder.
2. Take time to stretch.
When I first started running, I thought I was invincible. Then the reality set in that I needed to stretch before and after so I wouldn’t hurt myself and set myself back. The same is said for life. Take time to stretch between your busy work schedule or relationships. Take time to reflect on what’s really going in your life and how you feel. If you never take time to reflect on your life, you’ll end up hurting yourself in one way or another, looking back and only then realizing what you did wrong.
3. Track your distance.
I track myself every single time I go for a run. Knowing I beat my last time and distance is an amazing feeling and it helps keep me motivated. Life can become pretty monotonous and routine, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come and start focusing on everything you have yet to accomplish. Write down an achievement list, write down that promotion you got two years ago or that time you went a week without eating sugary foods. Whatever it is, be proud of it. You’re tougher than you think and sometimes you need a friendly reminder of that.
4. Bad days are inevitable.
I had been running for six months at this point and, for the most part, I had a certain distance and time I could do, no problem. Yet this one run, I was awful. I could barely make it thirty seconds without running out of breath. I was so angry. What was wrong with me? Was I sick? Did something happen? The simple answer was this: everyone is going to have a bad day once in awhile. No matter how much you prepare for life, one day you’re going to wake up and it’s going to be awful. Don’t fret, it’s just life.
5. Take time to rest.
“All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.” My favorite line from my favorite movie. So much truth in that statement. I run every other day and sometimes if need be, I take two or three days off. Listen to your body, listen to your soul. You know what you need and when you need it. Everyone needs to rest from work, life, relationships. Go for a walk, read a book, play a videogame. Do whatever you need to do to rest. You deserve to do things you want to do; don’t ever let anyone else tell you different.
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