I have been a runner for over half my life. Running keeps me sane (relatively speaking), gives me a space to work out life’s problems, and helps identify who I am.
Running has taught me many important lessons over the years. I am going to share three of them with you today.
I have written before about my love/hate relationship with yoga. At the beginning of the new year, I decided to kick start my yoga practice (again) by participating in a 30-days of yoga program.
It was my typical practice to do the short 20 or 30-minute yoga classes immediately after finishing a run. To be completely honest, there was a fair amount of complaining involved before many yoga sessions.
I am sure no one (except me) was happier when the 30 days were over than my poor husband, who had to listen to me whine.
Before the final class, as I was grumbling, Bill asked me why I did not simply skip the last day. I didn’t have to do it. I didn’t even pay for the class. It was free.
“I…I…well..I…uh…committed to doing the whole 30 days,” I stammered.
Runners are nodding in understanding as they read this.
We may grouse and complain. We may drag our feet. But once we have committed to something, by golly, we will do it, come what may!
There are many disadvantages of being reluctant to change plans in mid-stream. Sometimes admitting defeat and devising a Plan B is the best course of action.
But there are some unexpected benefits of being committed (read: stubborn).
We don’t waste energy dithering about whether we should consider other options. This gives us more energy to pursue our goals. Think about a marriage where one or both partners are not committed. Constantly evaluating other potential mates is a recipe for disaster.
Committed people are not easily discouraged. We don’t allow minor setbacks to prevent us from success. Imagine a friendship that falls apart at the first minor disagreement. Committed people will be friends you can count on. No matter what.
Those who are committed get things done. We don’t make lame excuses or try to get out of promises we made, even if those promises were only made to ourselves. We can focus on the task at hand and can be counted on to follow through.
Some of my best friends are runners.
There is something about pounding out miles together that makes sharing deeply personal feelings acceptable, even desirable.
I am missing the running community right now. I miss the Tuesday night fun runs, the Saturday morning trail runs, traveling to races together, exploring new routes with friends, and, maybe most of all, the post-run dinners, breakfasts, and lunches.
I learned one of the benefits of being part of the running community early in my running career. Runners, for the most part, feel good about themselves. That gives us a healthy confidence that results in strong friendships.
Once, I shared a small hotel room for a week with four running friends on a marathon excursion 2,000 miles from home. Five women sharing one bathroom. For a week. The trip began inauspiciously, with our rental car getting pelted (and damaged) in a hail storm.
There were no angry words that week, no snide remarks, no sighs of frustration, no eye-rolling, no sniping, no bickering. Just a lot of very loud laughter.
I’m not saying that non-runners could not have experienced the same togetherness and fun. I am saying that because we all shared the same goals and outlook on the trip, harmony may have been more likely.
Most runners are compassionate individuals. We donate to many causes through race fees. We supply encouragement to peers who may be struggling.
The compassion I refer to here, however, is directed at ourselves.
Learning to be compassionate with myself is one of the most difficult lessons I have ever learned. I am still learning. Running helps.
The voice that I used with myself was not always positive. I was at times overly critical, harsh, and sometimes downright scathing in my self-talk. Running has helped me to give myself the grace I was always quick to extend to others. It has helped me make peace with my inner critic.
Running trains me to embrace challenges and to believe in myself. I find inspiration from other runners’ stories of perseverance and dedication.
Running has helped me understand that I don’t need to be perfect to be worthy of compassion. It has taught me that friends and family love me for who I am, not because I have no faults (I do have a few).
Thank you, running. I am glad you showed up in my life. I hope you have a few more lessons to teach me. I realize someday I may not be able to run anymore. I am just grateful that today is not that day.