Running is a journey of ups and downs. There are so many lessons from running that I’ve learnt over the years.
Whether you’re building up to your first 5k or you’re an experienced half marathoner, there are so many things you learn about yourself when it comes to running.
One of the reasons I love running so much is because it teaches you a lot about your body and mind and what they are capable of.
I’ve become a much stronger (and fitter) person because of running. It has made me the person I am today.
But with any good thing there are undoubtedly lessons that you learn along the way.
Nothing in life is easy and the same applies to running.
I remember the days when I first started out as a runner.
The first mile was a killer and I didn’t think I could last, but I pushed myself to the end and I’m so glad I did because running, without doubt, has been a saviour for me over the last 10 years.
All runners have different stories to tell on why they decided to become a runner.
Here’s what I’ve learnt over the last 10 years as a runner, from staying motivated and what’s it’s actually like to complete your first half marathon.
It’s all about your mental attitude
The saying ‘mind over matter’ is banded around a lot these days but it’s so true.
I remember so clearly the time I ran my first ever half marathon. It was back in 2012 in central Cambridge.
I had trained hard for months and was really excited, yet incredibly anxious, to be running in my first proper long distance event.
I set off from the starting line and the first mile felt horrendous.
I had warmed up but my legs just felt really heavy. I don’t know if it was my nerves or the adrenaline rushing through my body, but I told myself to keep pushing as this feeling hadn’t been unfamiliar in my training plan.
Once I have got past the first mile, then the second and third, I soon got into my stride.
This is also about the time my mind starting to pull itself together. I made myself repeat positive affirmations like:
- “You haven’t come all this way for nothing”
- “You’ve trained for this and you deserve to be here”
- “Just focus on your race and you’ll smash it”
- “There’s a big bar of chocolate and a hot shower at the end of this race, so keep going.”
My body was more than capable of finishing that race (and it did), it’s just my mind that needed a little pep talk.
You will be amazed at what you can do once you put your MIND to it.
Your mind is what you need to convince you are capable, and once you have that in check, you can take on the world.
Never write yourself off
We humans have a tendency to write ourselves off whenever we get the chance.
It’s almost as if we are programmed to think negatively about ourselves and our abilities.
All this negative talk doesn’t do anyone any favours, especially you.
Running is a great way to smash those limiting beliefs and prove to yourself that you can do it, whether you set yourself a goal of running a 5k or a half marathon.
Simply put, once running becomes part of your everyday life, the goal you set yourself soon becomes achievable and sooner or later you’ve smashed it and moved onto the next one.
Running is almost always better with friends
It’s incredible to see the positive effect on your motivation and willingness to achieve something once you have a tribe of like-minded people around you who like and do the same things.
This is so key when it comes to running.
Running doesn’t have to be a solo sport.
Running groups are a great way to meet new people and get out running, especially on those days when you just don’t feel up to it.
Some of my most memorable runs have been with friends – running is a form of outdoors therapy!
Although I love the occasional solo run when I just want to get a bit of peace and perspective, I get so excited about running with friends and family, and especially with the ladies in my running groups.
There’s something so powerful about a group of women coming together to run, share stories and chat about their day.
It feels so good for your body and even better for your soul.
Post-run endorphins are the best!
If I could bottle the feeling I get after a run and take it everywhere I go, I would.
There’s nothing better than the feeling you get after a run.
You feel so proud of what you’ve achieved and your mind and body feels better for it too.
Running has been proven time and time again to benefit your physical and mental wellbeing in so many ways.
Many studies have shown that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.
Improved self-esteem is also a key psychological benefit of running.
There’s no wonder so many of us are taking up running each month.
Motivation is a mysterious yet extremely personal thing
I could write hundreds of blog posts on motivation and what makes people WANT to go for a run.
When it comes to running your own race, the key is to finding a reason that is intrinsic to YOU, not anyone else.
I have had many ups and downs over the years when it comes to motivating myself to go for a run.
I would be lying if I said it has been a walk in the park. It hasn’t.
When I first started running, my driving factor was weight loss.
I wanted to become a fitter and healthier person after years of partying and poor food choices at university.
Nowadays, although leading a fit and healthy lifestyle is still important to me, I value my physical and mental wellbeing and running helps me improve and maintain that.
I’ve suffer from anxiety and running in the great outdoors is a great way of calming me down if I ever have bad or low periods.
My other motivating factors include: hot showers, sea salt chocolate and the post-run high (seriously, they need to bottle that stuff).
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. EVER.
Oh, how I have got myself into a pickle over the years when I’ve compared myself to someone else.
They run faster than me so they must be a better runner and person. Seriously, no.
I’ve learnt that this is the most ridiculous, unrealistic and stupid thing ever and can damage your self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence in so many ways.
Instead of comparing yourself to someone else who ‘looks’ like they have their shit together, think about all the things that make you unique, not only as a runner, but as a person too.
It’s your race, no one else’s! If you want to go at a slower pace, do it.
If you don’t think you’re quite ready to step it up to a 10k, don’t worry you’ve got plenty of time for that!
Don’t let someone else’s journey determine yours.