1. Sometimes you do things you don't want to.
When I first started running I hated it. I didn't understand it and I certainly didn't enjoy it. It seemed crazy to run for fun. I just kept telling myself it would get better if I just kept pushing myself and eventually it did. It didn't happen overnight, but through months of hard work it paid off. Every run is different and each ones teaches me something new. It's like having a counselor, teacher and cheerleader all wrapped up into one. Every time you set out on a run it takes you on a new journey.
2. Start slow!
I'm not sure why I thought I could just jump into racing without any training. I guess I have sort of a complex about things and like to believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. That's partially true, but when it comes to anything physical you better train first to prepare your body. You have to walk before you can run, just like you should probably start with a 5k before jumping into a full marathon. With anything in life, it's best to work up to it rather than jump in and be overwhelmed or worse, drown.
3. Take your time
This one I had to learn the hard way. I'm stubborn. It's really hard for me to quiet my ego and slow down when I know I shouldn't be going as hard or fast during a run. Just this past weekend I made it through the first mile and felt pain creeping through my foot. I knew I needed to stop but my pride didn't want to let me. Eventually I gave in and walked, but it was harder to walk and take my time than to push through and finish strong like usual. You have to know your own limits and pay attention to them. There's no shame in slowing it down a bit, a 15 minute mile and 5 minute mile are both still a mile and at the finish line you'll get the same shiny medal to show off.
4. Set goals
When I first started running all I wanted to do was finish a 5k without stopping. To do this I told myself I would do at least one race a month to make sure I was staying in some kind of shape (even if that shape happened to be round at the time). Each time I reached a goal I would set a new one just beyond the grasp of that first one. Whenever I conquered a new feat, I felt unstoppable. Whether running or in just my day to day, I now feel like there isn't anything I can't do. The feeling of accomplishment and pride has to be earned. It is always worth it.
5. Celebrate your accomplishments
Sometimes its hard for us to be proud of something small, especially when we feel like we can do so much more. I have to constantly remind myself of this one. I often catch myself saying "oh it was just a 5k", but the truth is, even a shorter race has its challenges and celebrating a new PR or other accolade is every bit as important as others you may achieve. Don't let anyone dim your shine, when you've done something you're proud of, flaunt it, you deserve it.
6. Help others
This is my favorite. I've always loved helping people, but being a part of the running community has enriched my life so much that I don't feel I could possibly ever give enough back to repay it. Every time a friend or even stranger asks me for help with running or weight loss I get really excited. I'm so glad to see others getting serious about their health and I love that they feel comfortable enough to ask me to be a part of that journey. I will be your guru, support, encouragement, or whatever else you may need. Once you get going, remember to take a look around and help those around you get to where they want to be as well.
7. Stay strong
There will be times when you want to give up. You might lose sight of where you're going, or forgot how far you've come. Keep pushing. When you're able to keep going despite what may seem like the world crumbling around you, getting through it will be your best reward. There's no easy way out, you can't go around it, the best way is to simply lace up your shoes and keep on going. Don't let that roadblock stop you from getting to where you want to be, instead use it as a stepping stone to achieve higher success.
8. Just breath
Sometimes when I'm starting a race I get so excited and overwhelmed that I forget everything I've learned about running. I jump out of the starting line like a prized thoroughbred (forgetting that I'm more like a pack mule) and quickly run out of breath. I finally realize my grievous mistake and slow down to just focus on my breathing. It's calming to take a moment and just breath. Anytime you feel yourself sinking in, just take a moment to relax and breath. It helps.
If you're a fast runner you might not ever experience this, but you should try it at least once. Run with the back of the pack. My very first half marathon I struggled, but being in the back with all those people who just wanted an opportunity to cross that finish line truly changed me. They didn't need a PR, they just needed to prove that they could do it. They were strong enough to overcome cancer, the loss of a child, or a multitude of other hardships and persevere. Not just persevere, but grow beyond that and battle a beast they had never faced, a long distance race. I laughed, I cried, and more than anything I enjoyed hearing stories from my fellow runners. These tales from the road will move you, all you need to do is listen and be inspired.
I've found that there isn't much a smile can't help. This holds true for running. Any race that I've had a hard time with, I just push down all the negative feelings and put a smile on my face. You'd be surprised how people react to it, it's as if your happiness is infectious. Encourage someone around you and offer them a smile, it just may be the thing they need to help them keep going. Smile at the spectators to let them know you appreciate their cheers. Just keep smiling, no matter what, it will almost certainly make you feel better and definitely brighten the day of those around you.
I'm sure there are plenty more, but 10 seemed like a good number to share so maybe I'll revisit this in the future and add a few things. This list isn't exclusive to running, but can be applied to pretty much anything in life. Being a runner has changed my perspective in ways I never thought possible. I'm a better, stronger, happier person because of running.
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