To some, running is just putting one foot in front of the other, but to most, running is so much more than that. Not only is it a type of exercise, but it is also a form of education. There is so much running can teach you, and some of the lessons I have learnt from it are invaluable. This got me thinking, what are the 5 key lessons running has taught me?
1. Importance of fuelling. This had to be at the top of my list, because in my eyes, it is one of the most precious lessons I have learnt from the sport. You can’t drive a car without fuelling engine, so why do we think we can run without fuelling ourselves properly? It wasn’t until I malnourished my body, that I was able to learn how important it is to eat enough and not restrict myself. Whilst I had to learn the hard way, I don’t want others to. Malnourishment led to injury and all sorts of complications that did not aid my running, but sufficiently nourishing myself and being the strongest, healthiest individual I can be, has allowed me to run faster than I have previously, and will hopefully allow me to get A LOT faster.
Whether you’re a long distance runner or a sprinter, there is no set way you should look, as long as you’re eating plenty and you’re healthy, you look how YOU should.
2. Respect and listen to your body. Your body, just like your mind, needs to be respected. It works hard, and we ask a lot of it, so in order for it to gives us what we want, we need to try to respect and listen to it.
To get the most out of it, we need to work with it, not against it. So, if our body is telling us, today I am very tired, there is no point working against it, because this won’t be productive. If instead we listen to it, maybe take an extra easy day, or factor in a rest day, we are bound to reap the benefits of a refreshed, stronger feeling body the next day. Just like with anything, if you respect it, it will work with you. Thus, in order to get the most out of our running, we need to do just that. It has taken me a while to listen to my body, and even now I struggle, but I am getting better at knowing when something doesn’t feel right and I need to take my foot off the pedal a little bit.
3. Patience. This is something running is still teaching me, because I can’t say I have fully learnt it yet. I am not a very patient person when it comes to getting things done. Especially when it comes to work, paid or uni, I like to be on top of it, and get it ticked off in plenty of time, but of course to the best of my ability. However, with running, you are forced to be patient. No matter how hard you train, you are always going to have to wait. You won’t get to your full potential overnight, nor would you really want to. It can take years to reach your best. There is no point smashing your body to the limit for a couple of weeks and then dying for the next month, because there is no consistency to this. If we consistently tick off solid weeks of training it will add up over time and have a positive effect, but there is no benefit in rushing this. I began to learn this after my injury a few years ago. I learnt that if I ran more than I was told, and ate less than I should, I WOULDN’T get where I wanted faster. Progress can’t be rushed. Running and improving takes time and consistency, so patience is key.
4. Hard work. From what I have witnessed so far in my journey, and what I have seen from others, both professional and non, this is 100% true. As the quote goes, “Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard”. I believe there is only one way to succeed in this sport, and that is through honest hard work. I think this is a vital lesson that relates to everything in life. If you work hard for what you want to achieve, you will, at some point, be rewarded for this.
There is no easy way to achieve your goals, if there was, everyone would succeed at what they want to do, and for example, everyone who thought they wanted to be an Olympian would be one. Unfortunately, or I think fortunately, this isn’t the case. I feel, whenever you witness progress and see yourself developing from hard work, the reward is so much greater, because you know you have worked hard to get there and you have given your all. Nothing worth having is easy, it takes hard work over a long period of time.
5. Importance of enjoyment. Running is a tough sport, but it is also an incredibly positive and rewarding one. There is no better feeling than that you have after completing a tough session or finishing a race. Nothing compares to it. However, I have learnt over the past few years, that my best running occurs when I am enjoying it. I have placed too much pressure on myself in the past, and still do at times, and this never seems to have the same positive effect as running happy does. When I am completely relaxed in my approach to the sport and enjoy the journey, no matter what each day throws at me, training and my progress flows a lot more smoothly. Whether it actually does, or I am less sensitive to every up and done, I don’t know, but enjoyment and positivity is so important. Yes nerves do arise, and this is good, but when I am excited to run and enjoy training as much as I can, the process and the journey flows better.
These are my top 5 lessons that I have learnt from running, what are yours? I’d love to hear what running has taught you.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!