I realized on my long run this weekend that I haven’t acknowledged a pretty important milestone: March was my one year running anniversary.
I’m not sure what day but I know it was mid to late March-in fact, I probably ran the Mesquite Canyon half marathon at pretty much the year mark.
And I’ve learned a lot in that last year. Lessons like:
1. Don’t do it if it’s not fun.
I’m not saying that there won’t be challenges or low points but anytime I started to view running as a chore, I’m missing the point. Because running IS challenging and it can be hard and if I can’t remember what I love about it and what I find fun about it, then I see no point in putting myself through pain or struggle out of obligation.
2. Nature is it’s own reward.
Being out on the trail first thing in the morning when the light is filtering through the trees, watching a butterfly pass by, the way water sounds as it scrambles over rocks-these are just some of the many reasons that trail running has captures my heart. Being part of the larger, wilder world puts us in touch with our soul, at least in my opinion, and reminds me that miracles are much more common than we think. I mean have you ever stopped to consider how amazing it is that water can smooth down a rock without using force? The intricacy of a flower or the art of a butterfly’s wing? Nature is the most epic art project ever and when I’m out running, I get to be part of it. That is pretty cool.
3. Pain is temporary.
The tough parts don’t last. The blisters, the stomach issues, the dehydration headaches-none of these discomforts are permanent. Which leads me to my next lesson:
4. Pain is worth it.
I am most definitely NOT advocating continuing to run when injured or when your body just can’t get past the heat or cold and is telling you to stop. There are limits and they are different for every person. But anytime I’ve kept going, even when it was tough for whatever reason, the sense of accomplishment has been so much sweeter.
But I honestly think that a lot of times what stops us is discomfort, not actual pain. I know I want to stop if I have a headache or my blisters hurt or my stomach is upset but every time I don’t, I feel stronger, more resilient and more confident in who I am.
5. You will learn patience whether you like it or not.
Boy have I. When I was forced to rest because of injury. When the training plan didn’t go as planned. When I was at mile 10 of a 13 mile run and just want to be done. When it’s just a bad run and nothing is going right but I was determined to get through it. All of these things and more have taught me to keep going when there was no gratification or reward in sight and to trust that the gratification will come.
6. You can do way more than you think.
If you give it enough time and don’t push, the mileage you thought was crazy will become common place. The distance that scared you will become a training run. IT DOES GET EASIER. Your body can get used to just about anything with enough time and persistence.
7. The simple things are the best things.
It always amuses me how my priorities change when I’m out in the woods or in a race. In the ‘real’ world, I find myself getting frustrated if it’s too warm or cool in my office, getting impatient if I have to wait in line or if an app on my phone takes more than a minute to download. But out there? An actual bathroom that’s in a building with a sink is nirvana. And oranges slices at the aid station? PRAISE THE SWEET BABY JESUS. I am constantly reminded of what’s really important.
8. Runner brain.
I don’t know if anyone else calls it this but you know how after a long run in 90+ degree heat you can’t articulate to your husband what you’d like for lunch? How in the middle of a run you wonder what Scott Baio is doing these days? When you pass a vertical arrow on a course (pointing straight ahead) and you actually think that the arrow is pointing up and telling you that you’ll have to start climbing? I call this runner brain. It’s fun. :)
9. It’s not all about running.
Weird, I know. But as my love and understanding of running has grown, running has opened me up to more in life that has nothing to do with running. Because of running, I’ve been inspired to get involved with the community more, to get back into something creative and to get more connected with my friends.
All in all, it’s been a fun year, one that has shown me so much of myself. I’m sure I can’t even imagine what the coming years will show me.