Over the past year I have learned so many things about life through running. Through it all I have been amazed at how most things can be related back to life. Although there are a many things I have learned about myself over the past year, the top seven things I learned about life is a good place to start.
1. Everything is in your life for a reason, either a blessing or a lesson.
Over the past 30 years I have literally gone through the same situations over and over. I would often wonder why life put these situations in front of me over and over. These negative situations just wouldn’t stop repeating themselves which was very draining.
That being said not every run is a good run. Some of the hardest runs, no matter the distance, have been the most beneficial. These runs are the ones I had to dig deep and really focus on pulling through. I would play with strides, pace and really have to figure out what I needed to get through the tough spot. Similarly in life, those situations you struggle through are the ones that really bring to back to who you are.
In life this showed me if I really listened to my body, I would know what to do. I am far from where I was a year ago both mentally and physically. Don’t get me wrong, I still go through challenges on a daily basis. The difference is no matter what the situation, it will either be a blessing or a lesson and both are beneficial.
2. Drop expectations and go with the flow.
This was a huge lesson for me. I like to be in control of the situation and would honestly plan every day of my life if I could. I know plans change in life but in the past that change would stress me out (still happens occasionally). I had such high expectations and if things didn’t go my way, I would be devastated. I am VERY dramatic so when I say devastated I mean it.
Before I started running, a day without a game plan would never happen. I tried to carry this control into my race plans. You can image how successful that was. It usually played out in my 5k and 10k runs but once I got to half marathons and marathons it became especially important to go with the flow. I mean, do not go in to a marathon without a plan but drop the expectations behind the planning. Aim for your goals but know that every run is different. Things happen. When I ran my first marathon I wanted to run sub 4 hours, heck I wanted to do 3:45…. That did not happen. The day was hot, the course was hard and my body was not feeling it. I had to listen to my body and go with the flow. When I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face my time, goal was the last thing on my mind. One year ago that wouldn’t have been the case and because of this life lesson I was able to enjoy my accomplishment even though it wasn’t what I planned.
3. Fake it till you make it!
In business this advice was given to me by some very successful people. They told me to dress for the job I want, not the job I have. I work in a very male dominant work environment and to be in the position I am currently in, I had to follow this advice. In life my mom uses the expression “Put your big girl panties on” meaning pull yourself together and make stuff happen. In both cases it really works.
In running I found this lesson was all about smiling. During my first marathon, even though I finished with a smile on my face, I struggled. My struggle was written all over my face. I felt every step, every mile and although I made it through it was a definite struggle. In my second marathon, I took a different approach. I smiled, and stayed positive even when it was hard. This made the world of difference. Not only did I get a 12 minute PR but I enjoyed the race! I smiled when I was tired, I threw my arms in the air and cheered for people as I went by. This marathon was still a hard race but it didn’t seem even half the struggle my first marathon was because of the smile on my face. I pushed to smile until it’s all I wanted to do.
4. In the end its not going to matter how many breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away.
I have been through many good and bad things as most people. Although running definitely added more meaning to this for me I learned this in other areas as well. I am a very dramatic when it comes to my emotions. When I am happy I am REALLY happy. When I am sad I am REALLY sad. Everything I do in this area is big. When thinking of this, a few scenarios come to mind. When my brother got accepted into AA, I cried like a baby because I was so proud of him or when he got an Xbox for Christmas I was so excited that he was so happy I cried. Now that I am writing this down I can see why my family looked at me like I was crazy. On the other hand, when I did the Miss Universe Pageant my sister came with my parents and grandmother. My biggest memory that took my breath away (because I was laughing so hard) was when she tried to teach me to isolate my hips. As my sister is an amazing dancer, this seemed like an easy task to do. I am no dancer, the idea of isolating a hip was way out of my element. We laughed so hard and that moment is one of the fondest memories I have at my pageant. Those moments that you feel your heart, whether you are happy, sad, excited or laughing so hard you may pee, those are the moments that matter.
Now back to running. During my first marathon there were moments that I was so overwhelmed with how proud I was, that I would start to cry. Now for those of you who have ever cried while running you may have had the same experience as me. When you cry your throat gets choked up, leaving you out of breath. Now this is in the literal context of the quote but those are the moments I felt so alive. I had to calm myself but those moments were the ones that I felt alive and felt the joy of my huge accomplishment. As I crossed the finish line of my first marathon I cried, barely making out the words telling my dad that I did it. Those moments were the ones that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
5. Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react.
This one was another big lesson for me. As I said before I am fairly dramatic, and by fairly I mean VERY. My reaction to almost everything is over the top which has both its ups and downs. Just to put this into perspective, one time I fell off a jungle gym and wasn’t hurt but I continued to lay there and scream to my mom that I was dying. Clearly I wasn’t dying but I needed the world to know that I could be.
When I lost my finger tip I had to stay calm or I would have gone into shock. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about I had a rough couple years and in that time I lost my finger tip breaking up a dog fight. I wrote about this more in my earlier posts. Anyway, this is where I began to learn how true this quote really is.
When running occasionally things hurt, your lose toenails, you get cramps and if you panic it definitely doesn’t help the situation. Occasionally in my long runs I would get a cramp, and usually I do these runs alone so there was really no one to entertain with my dramatic reaction or to hear me complain so instead of taking the dramatic approach, thinking how I am I going to run 18 miles with a cramp, I kept calm and breathed through it. Now this has not been a way I have really handled any crisis prior so I was very surprised when my cramp went away. Calm works, hence proving my dramatic ways were not the answer to the worlds problems. I now use this in my every day life. I still have my moments but things are always better when you don’t make them worse than they need to be with a dramatic reaction.
6. The mind is everything, what you think you become. -Buddha
I love this quote and it is so true. The power of the mind is truly an amazing thing. I have always heard people talk about the power of the mind and how you create your reality through power of thought. I am not going to lie, I thought this was the most bogus thing I had ever heard years ago. I now think otherwise.
When I run I find the first step out the door is the hardest part. This is not because my steps are very dangerous or there is any big obstacle waiting for me outside the door it because my mind fights me about going. I don’t know about you but I love to run and hate to run at the same time. Nothing makes me feel more alive but when I get home from work it takes me a bit to get those runners on and get out the door.
When running my first marathon the power of the mind really stood out. I thought I had prepared for it, how hard could a marathon be…. WRONG. It’s hard and I legitimately argued with myself about taking a break (which I never did) at half of the race. To get keep myself from gibing up I had to positively talk to myself and remind myself to keep going. Now for those of you who think I sound crazy the next time you do a difficult task try it! You don’t have to say it out loud but remind yourself how strong and capable you are and you will definitely see a difference. The mind is a powerful thing, use it to your benefit. There are enough obstacles on the road to success not need to be one of them.
7. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. –Booker T. Washington
I have always believed in helping others and lifting others up when they need it but this quote really came to light through my journey as a runner. I have the opportunity to coach some really amazing people through the Running Room. These people have taught me more than I could ever imagine and helped me through tough times without even knowing it! Through sharing my running knowledge, guiding and assisting these people to their goals it has added so much to my life. Building them up and helping them reach their goals has helped me reach mine!
My second marathon brought a lot of meaning to this as well. As I ran I would smile, chat with the runners, cheer them on if they looked like they were struggling and all in all worked to make the race enjoyable for everyone. Even if they got a laugh at my dance moves at km 30 or singing at km 16, I knew that any distraction would help when things got tough. This made my race so enjoyable and when I wrote my race recap I realized how much this attitude pushed me to success in this race.
Now, as I said I really could go on forever about running and the things I learned from it but these are definitely some of my favourites!
What have you learned from running? What are your favourite life quotes?