5 things running is teaching me.

In early 2019, I had one main goal for the year… to take steps into becoming healthier overall–mentally, emotionally, and physically. The previous two years had been filled with unhealthy eating habits and long, stressful work hours and it had taken it’s toll on not only my physical body, but my mind as well. I knew a change had to be made.

As I stood looking at myself in the mirror on January 1, I knew I wanted a change more than anything. I was more miserable than I had ever been. It wasn’t just that I was at my largest weight I had ever seen though. What sparked something in me was how I felt overall. I was absolutely miserable and felt horrible all the time. I had knotted muscles in my lower back that hurt so much, some days I could barely stand up straight. I was exhausted all the time. I had zero energy, and I thought to myself, “Is this the life I want to live? Is the the type of person I want to be for my kids?” I knew the answer. So, I started making changes slowly.

When I first started, I could barely walk a mile on a treadmill at 3.5 miles per hour. So, I also started making changes to my diet. As weight came off, I began being able to do more and more and eventually began jogging.

I’d like to share my personal perspective on things I’m learning as I continue to (very much so) be an amateur runner.

1. It’s 80% mental/20% physical ability.

For me, running has always been more mental, and what I mean by that is simply believing in myself that I can run the race. Even now, I usually run about 10 miles on my long runs, and I literally have to tell myself every time I set my feet to the pavement that I can do it. With it being winter, I run on the treadmill because I hate the cold. Every mile, I still have to tell myself that I can do this. You may hear people talk about “running the mile your in” or “take it one mile at a time” and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t focus on mile 24–focus on the mile you’re in, putting one foot in front of the other.

2. What you wear matters.

Get yourself some good running shoes. I would even suggest doing some research to see what the best running shoe for you would be. I wear Brooks. Here’s a link to the Brooks Shoe Finder. It’s a great tool to help you get started. I also wear Under Armour compression gear and running shorts. What you wear can have an enormous impact on how your body reacts to running, so find something that works for you. Also, make sure you get some moisture-wicking socks. I learned this the hard way.

3. Running is full of breakthroughs and hard days.

For me, I still have good days and bad. I have days where I feel light, pain free, and seem to be able to run forever. Then, I have days where I struggle to run a mile. The only connection I’ve made that I’ve noticed that makes an impact is what I eat the day before. On days I fill my body with nutrient-rich food, I run better, and longer. I know that sounds like common sense, but the longer I do this, the more I’ve learned what you put in your body has a huge impact.

4. I get some of my best ideas while running.

There’s a ton of medical research to back this up, but when I’m running, it helps me clear my mind. I’ve solved many problems and had some incredible realizations when I’m running. Also, I feel close to God. I’m sure it’s a combination of endorphins and adrenaline that contribute to this, but running is the perfect time for me to think and pray.

5. Give yourself grace.

I would describe my running journey as a mix of highs and lows, and literally feeling like I’m fighting for my life some days. When I started actually running, I could barely run more than a minute. You’re going to have days when you can’t run as long as you wanted to. You’re going to have days where you choose not to run as much, but know you could have. Give yourself grace when this happens. You’re out there, doing the work, and your breakthrough is coming. What may seem as an impossible goal on Thursday can turn into a breakthrough on Friday. Listen to your body, do the work, and try to enjoy the ride.

Like I said, I’m just an amateur here, but I wanted to share my thoughts with you. Running and I have a love/hate relationship, but it’s mostly love. Running is teaching me so much about myself and life. I hope you find something that does the same for you.

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