When I originally started running cross country in high school, I honestly never thought it would define me so much in such a short time. It has taught me a lot about myself both mentally and physically. I learned lessons I never would have learned anywhere else in the middle of races, and during workouts that I hated. This all became very evident when I finished my first marathon at 18. Trust me, if you want to get to know yourself, spend your morning running 26.2 miles. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. My body is awesome.
Like every other teenager in the world, I thought my body should look a certain way, mostly the way that people look in magazines. Once I started running though, I slowly began to realize that my body can do some amazing things. After completing a marathon, I realized that my body is a badass and that I love it so much.
2. My mind will always give up way before my body ever will.
I remember that this was a weird concept for me to grasp. My mind would be screaming ‘PLEASE STOP I’M GOING TO DIE!’ but miraculously, that never stopped me. Your mind will always give up first, but if you keep pushing you will see what you’re really made of.
3. I have found out what I’m actually made of.
Running is hard. Life is hard. But you are strong, and can do this. I promise you, you are a lot stronger than you think you are. Keep pushing and you will see just how amazing and beautiful you are.
4. When you outrun your first wind, if you keep pushing, you’ll find a second, and a third, and a fourth.
I only found this out during my marathon. I ran out of my first wind and it suddenly dawned on me that I had 20 more miles to go. I didn’t really think this through now did I, but I just relaxed and kept running. Around mile 17 I hit a second wind. This went on all 26.2 miles, and man, I learned that we all have more winds than we ever will realize.
5. Smiling makes it all better.
It may sound stupid, but smiling actually makes running (and everything) better. I tricked myself into thinking that I was having a blast around mile 22 when in all reality I was in pain. The only thing I could do at that point was smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Pretty soon, I was having a blast though. By forcing myself to smile, I tricked myself into having a good time. Seriously, smiling is the real deal.
I may have learned all this while running, but this applies to my whole life. Maybe running isn’t your thing, but there’s other ways. I hope everyone finds something that changes them like I did, and teaches them life skills along the way.