what running teaches you about L.I.F.E. (and you know i hate caps)

buckle up — this is gonna be a long one. πŸ™‚

if we’re totally honest, all of us runners have experienced the highest of running highs and the lowest of running woes. we have days where we bound out of bed completely energized and stoked to hit the pavement, and we have days where the mere thought of picking up our sneaks from our bedroom floor seems an impossible task.

so much of this is mental, yes, but so much is physical as well. we’re tired. our legs feel like steel bands. every step hurts. we suddenly have some weird new knee pain that’s driving us crazy. Aleve can only do so much. running just seems HARD, all the sudden, when it never did before. and yet we know will keep doing it, even when every muscle in our screaming legs is begging otherwise.

soulrunwhy is that?

i mean, i don’t have the answers. it seems like there could be a million reasons, or no good ones at all. we’re over-worked or under-slept; we’ve done too many leg workouts recently; we don’t stretch nearly enough; we’ve eschewed rest days.

this week, i’ve been feeling like i have to teach myself to walk again every time i stand up, my legs are that sore. every step is a humility lesson in inflexibility; each muscle aches more than the next. i want a hot tub and an ice bath and a physical therapist and a bed and days of pajamas and couches. walking hurts; running just feels hard. 9-minute miles are sometimes seeming like a challenge.


this is where i take a step back and think about my relationship with running, and why i love it so, and deal with this valley. i have had so many peaks, and considered myself a strong runner for a long time. the truth is, it IS hard on my body and i need to be okay with taking it slow for a bit if i’m hurting, and tend to myself til i feel up to speed again.

and this is hard for me. i hate feeling like i’m regressing instead of getting better. i should be a good runner. i shouldn’t be feeling this way.

i don’t want to feel like “i should” in regards to running. i’ve chosen to do this because i love this, and i don’t ever want to lose that. what i need to do at these times is revise my mentality about it and choose to remember

and this is where i think about all the running has given me, and how running is a metaphor for life in so many ways.

*teaches me patience.Β wouldn’t it be fabulous if we were amazing at everything the very first time and had no learning curve? well, yes and no — at least in regard to running, for me. the journey from struggling to run a mile in high school to running a marathon last year has been one of the most defining aspects of my life, and has truly taught me the value of committing whole-heartedly to something and seeing it transform your life in so many ways over time. it’s given me a long, difficult, beautiful, amazing journey upon which to look back and say, “i didn’t give up on this. not when it was hard; not when i was hurting or frustrated; not when i was tired. i did this.” good things happen over time, they say. i’ve seen this come true in my running life, and i hope i can apply this to other areas of my life and use my running journey as inspiration.

*challenges me like whoa.Β at times in my life when i feel like i’m completely under-challenged and frustrated by not having something to work super hard at, i’ve turned to running and focused on pushing myself to new limits and goals in this area. running 10 miles, running a half marathon, running a marathon, running when you’re exhausted — these are all challenges. overcoming them fills your days with small & big victories and reminds you that you CAN set goals and overcome them, and that you ARE capable of pushing yourself forward. i think we all forget this, from time to time. i know i do.

*adds structure.
if i didn’t run, i swear i’d be all over the place. when should i wake up? what do i do with my free time? what are early mornings good for, anyway? where do i turn to unleash my frustrations or sadness or anxiety? what do i even have that’s really MINE in my life, anyway? running is one answer to all of these, for me. and it’s a fabulous one.

*great talking point. “so, tell me about yourself…what do you like to do?” great. i have a ready answer for that. runners love to talk running (and we probably drive the rest of you nuts), and when you meet other people who totally get your obsession, the convos just flow. i love being able to connect with people over such a life-defining, health-oriented passion.

*it, like, makes me wanna be healthy.
err, well, duh. i mean, yes, i’m sort of obsessed with living a healthy life style, and i owe the origins of this to running. i started running to get into some semblance of shape, and that began to transform my thinking about health: about how i treated my body, about my food choices, about what it means to be strong and fit rather than a certain clothing size or image. now, i want to feel good and take care of myself so that i can continue to run and feel good about myself. i don’t run because i need to shed the cupcake weight. heck, i don’t even like cupcakes, or eat many sweets at all. my whole mentality about what it means to be healthy has changed, all because i became a runner.

*the wonder of family legacies. my grandpa was a runner before he identified himself as anything else. my father was, and still is, a lifelong runner, and it was his influence that spurred me to fall in love with running as well. i’m forever grateful to him, and i love that we have this connecting point to talk about. he’s become my biggest fan and is as excited about me running marathons as i am, i think, and i know i wouldn’t have started running — or kept with it — if it wasn’t for him telling me over and over again that it was the only “real” way to exercise. he can be stubborn and set in his ways, for sure, but in this case, it really molded my life. thanks, dad. πŸ™‚

i’m sure there are a mess of other things i could expound upon, but the point is, running has changed my life irrevocably and for the wayyyyyy better, and i want to maintain an attitude of gratitude rather than allow myself to get too bummed when i’m feeling “less than.” i will always be a runner, God willing, and as in any relationship, i’ll have to take the good with the not-so-good. that’s life. and it’s pretty darn spectacular.

What in your life has taught you so much about yourself?
Anyone have similar experiences with running? Why do you love it so?


16 thoughts on “what running teaches you about L.I.F.E. (and you know i hate caps)

  1. Ahhh no girl! I hope your legs feel better soon 😦 This post reminds me a lot of how I feel about lifting. Most days I’m so so sooo stoked to get in the weight room. I’ll have that one off day where I just want to not go at all and really just hate the whole entire workout. It’s always so disappointing.

  2. Love this! Honestly, this summer has tested my love for running… This time last year I was running 5ks this year I’m a BQer and working on my second marathon of the year. With great success comes great rewards right? Not always, it also comes with aches and pains and questions about what your doing and if it’s all worth it… The fact is that I LOVE running. It doesn’t define me but I am who i am because it HAS taught me a lot…it doesn’t judge you, it’s always there for you, and sometimes it gives us a reality check…I can’t imagine my life with out it, it may be my soulmate;)

  3. I hope you feel better soon doll, get lots of rest!!
    I love this post!! A few years ago I hated running, I never looked forward to it especially because my endurance level was not at a good starting point. Over the last two years I have worked really hard at getting better. Now I absolutely love running, it is a great stress relief for me. I love how I feel after a good run πŸ™‚

  4. Sorry that you are feeling meh–I think a lot of us are going through that right now! Running has taught me more about myself than I ever could have realized, but not necessarily because it itself has taught me–sometimes running helps me to realize what I have learned through other aspects of life as well when I compare the experiences. Hang in there, and feel better.

  5. Aw I really love this. And I totally agree with the CS Lewis quote – running gives you a high like no other, but it really, really challenges your body and mind in all sorts of ways. Sorry that you’re feeling frustrated – I guess with the highs come the lows, as with anything in life. But you always post such beautiful running pictures I can only imagine how much motivating that is! Thinking of you πŸ™‚ I hope you feel better soon!

  6. I love this and really needed it today. I have been having those same regressing feelings lately and they have kind of thrown me into this really unattractive shame spiral. I need to remember the things that I love about running and that it’s OKAY (and necessary) for me to slow down right now. It will get better later. This is just going to make me appreciate the easy days so much more. πŸ™‚

  7. Great post, friend. I think we have all dealt with the highs and lows of running. It can be a roller coaster sometimes. I think that’s what I love and appreciate the most about it. Not all days are amazing, fast, strong runs. Some days are slower, more of a time of reflection (for me I do a lot of thinking in solitude on my runs, especially lately on my long ones), and those are the days I focus on my breath, enjoy nature, stop to take photos of the sun hiding behind the trees. Other days I enjoy how working so hard makes me love and embrace my rest days. Running sometimes mentally also burns you out. When I feel like that I always take a step back, cross train (I think it’s one of the most important parts of a training program) and running will always be there when you return. Runners can be very hard on themselves – it’s always a good thing to never outrun the joy and blessing that running brings to your every day life.

    • so well said, love — thx for this. i probably should get back into spin class…which means joining another gym. but i like what you said about using it as reflection time – really changes the intention and makes you view it differently. ❀

  8. I can really relate to this post. I don’t know what I did before running, but I know my life wasn’t as structured and I didn’t have the challenge and drive that I do now. Running has taught me how to be more confident, to take risks, and that hard work and dedication does pay off in various ways. Running has opened doors to other challenges and goals that I would have never thought possible. It also makes me feel connected to others who share the same passion and lifestyle. You are right – we get each other. πŸ™‚

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