It’s National Running Day, and all day long my social media feeds have been FILLED with photos of people running, their badges on why they run, and I couldn’t be more happy to be part of this amazing “cult” that supports others doing crazy fitness feats. I’ve run tons of races, countless miles, and last year had my very first DNF – but you know what? Running has also taught me a lot of other things.
Running taught me discipline. Getting up at 5:45am to go run doesn’t always happen. So, on the days it doesn’t, I make sure I run after work. Even if I don’t want to. Even if I’m overtired from a hard day at work, or didn’t sleep well the night before, or it’s raining outside (no lightning? Go run) or it’s I’m missing time with friends and family. Running and making running a firm part of my life means doing it even when I don’t want to. Kind of like laundry and cleaning the bathroom.
Running taught me to push harder. I used to perform in a winterguard called Paradigm, and I always pushed myself really hard when I was at practice. I had the bruises and the cuts to prove it, the dislocated fingers and the concussions. So I already consider myself a pretty tough chick. But when it comes to running, it’s different. I had to learn how to push myself to go past the ache in my lungs that is begging me to walk, or the pain in my legs that tells me to quit, or the pounding in my head and fading vision that made me want to cry. I learned how to push past the migraine pain and finish half marathons. I learned that if I can do that, I can do anything. Running is just mind over mater.
Running taught me the importance of a good nights sleep. Before running, I wouldn’t think twice about staying up all hours of the night and grabbing maybe a 4 hour nap before another full day. Now, knowing how much energy it takes to go out there and run 3 miles let alone a half marathon, sleep is super important. I need at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night, and sometimes I still catch myself dozing about an hour before bed time. It happens to be because I work hard and I run hard… and when I can I play hard, and if you do too, then you know that your body needs to crash and get some rest. Sleep is important, mmkay?
Running taught me to feed my body good food, not junk. Before I really started running, I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t take diet seriously. I wasn’t a fast food junkie (because it tastes AWFUL to me) but I would drink sodas like they were water, snack on high calorie chips and candy, eat fatty meals without thinking about it. Once I started really getting into running, I realized that I felt better when I fueled my body correctly. I cut out the gluten, which helped my digestion, and the crappy foods to once a week and suddenly I felt fantastic. Real food, not processed food, makes for a better runner.
Running taught me who my real friends are. This one is a tough one to admit out loud. When I started seriously running, I noticed that some of the people I thought were good friends of mine disappeared. I didn’t want to go out to the same places we used to go to and eat lots of bad foods, I didn’t want to drink a lot while at karaoke, and I didn’t want to stay out late knowing I had to run in the morning. Sure, I have some non-runner friends who appreciate what I do…But a lot of them ended giving me all kinds of hell (“Your running bothers me. Can’t you do something other than run?”) What was interesting was that for every friend I lost, a new one who ran themselves stepped in. Now, I have a happy medium; I have friends who run, and I have friends who don’t but understand that I adore it and will cheer me on from their beds as they sleep at 6am.
Running is something that everyone can learn from. Even the most elite athletes have something they can learn from running. Tell me in the comments what you have learned from running!