What Running Has Taught Me

People have told me that I'm crazy for loving a long-distance run. In fact, I participated in a Half Marathon on Sunday, September 24th. Running takes determination and passion much different than other sports. I've heard so many athletes claim that running is easy; the truth is, Cross Country running, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult sports. Running takes a toll on the body, and consistently pushing yourself to run faster is not only physically difficult, but mentally as well. Being in Cross Country, as well as running individually, has taught me valuable lessons about myself, and life in general. 

Do not accept failure. Use it as fuel. 

This seems like obvious advice in life, but it's more complicated than one might think. When pushing your body to extremes, gasping for breath, and pain spreading throughout every joint, crossing a finish line with a time less than your goal feels like the world is crashing down. I've shed plenty of tears over horrible racing times- but you're just so tired; "how?", I ask myself, "could I have possibly ran any faster?" In life, sometimes we accept where we are, and change our dreams/goals due to mistakes or failures of the past. Instead, we should be using those times, when we were at our lowest, as motivation to reach that goal. I can assure you, it is possible to go the extra mile. And in the end, it's all worth it. Plenty of tears have also been shed in the happiest moments of racing, when I achieved the impossible. I believe that the same can be done for you. 

It doesn't matter what everyone else is doing, it matters what you are doing. 

Team work is important; I acknowledge this. But if you, yourself, aren't putting in maximum effort, then teamwork isn’t very successful. With running, you are competing against yourself. Only you, as an individual, can PR (personal record). Put the practice in and be honest with yourself in life. Don't make excuses; you are in control of your future and any dream you want to accomplish. Don't focus on others- be reflective in your own life and find your own version of success, because you CAN do it. 

Sometimes, there is a perfect soundtrack to life. 

To me, nothing is more freeing than running on a trail with music blasting through my headphones. As I listen to my favorite music, I realize that some songs really do fit perfectly into my life. Instantly upon hearing a song that describes life, I want to run faster, and I feel lighter. Do the same in your own life; listen to music when your stressed. Find those songs that breathe life into moments, and listen to them in the greatest (and not so great) days of your week. Share them with friends, dance, and enjoy the moments that bring you most joy. 

Nature is truly beautiful, enjoy it more. 

Let me just say it- I hate running on treadmills. It's boring being so stationary and not having the space to actually move around. Plus, with a treadmill, you miss out on some beautiful scenery. If you want a beautiful place to run in La Crosse, I absolutely love the marsh trails. Even if running isn't your thing, I encourage you to be outside and enjoy fall. Running has taught me to appreciate so many landscapes. Take a hike, admire the colors of the leaves and the sunshine on your face. Wake up early to see the sunrise, or go to the bluffs at sunset to view the beautiful colors that streak across the sky. Enjoy it. 

Exercise can be fun. 

Lots of people view exercise as a chore, but it doesn't have to be. Some of my close running friends have said "do it for the booty" and "race day magic will carry you through". These expressions can be reflected into anyone's exercise routine. Think of the physical benefits of working out- I always feel so much happier after exercising too! And you will get through any hard work out you attempt. Thinking beyond working out, you can get through any obstacle thrown your way. Exercise can be fun, remember that! Look up some Pinterest work outs- this way you can go through different exercises each time, switching it up to make it less boring, while also working different muscle groups.  

Confidence can make or break you. 

When running, it's important to believe that you can accomplish your goal. Music or friends cheering me on in a race are often my motivators to push my pace. In life, be confident. Have courage- it only takes a few seconds to make a choice that can positively benefit your life. My mom always told me, "have no regrets", and I'm forever thankful for this advice. Don't run your race feeling like a failure, believe you can, and you WILL. Push the pace in your life and go for those dreams that scare you the most. 

Bring a friend. 

Running is always more fun with a friend by your side; running partners can help you to keep steady or increase your pace, while also providing conversation. Outside of running or exercise in general, life if more fun with meaningful people by your side. Do life with individuals who make you happier and give you the support of a good running partner. Take the time to reflect and be thankful for the all of the people in your life. 

 

Running has taught me so much about myself internally, and I highly encourage others to try this sport, whether it's starting with a jog or running several miles. Reflection is important, and the difficulties of running pull out the best in a person. I'm not sure if you'll take my advice literally and take up running as a hobby, and if you do, that's great! But at least look at this advice and try to apply it into your life. Go the extra mile!