Many people believe I’m a lifelong runner, but actually, I am not! Before running, I swam competitively for over 15 years, but there is only so much excitement you can get from staring at the bottom of a pool. What is the short story of how I began running, more scenery?
I’ve been running off and on for the last seven years. Some years have brought PRs and the “greatest races of my life,” other years like this year, have brought low key, running when it fits into my schedule and trying to avoid both burnout and injury.
Many people have asked: What is one lesson you knew when you started running? Or some lessons you’ve learned throughout the years? The truth is, in the last seven years I’ve learned quite a few things. I’m not a professional or an elite but do enjoy running.
Here are seven of my favorite lessons I’ve learned:
1) Not every run needs to be fast — and it shouldn’t
Elites run 80% of their runs easy and 20% hard. That’s it. You don’t need to be out of breath, wheezing, or pushing the pace for that 80%. That actually does more harm than good.
2) Everyone progresses at different paces
Comparison is the thief of joy. There is no need to compare yourself to others or even yourself. For instance, I could compare myself to 2016 when I set all of my running PR’s, but that isn’t the fitness I’m in. Every person is different.
3) It’s okay to say no
It’s ok to say no to a marathon, to staying out late, or to running with others. Ultimately, we have to do what is best for us. If your favorite distance is the 5K, then go with it! If your preferred distance is a marathon than go with it!
There is no need to try and please everyone by doing everything or doing “what other runners do.”
4) Social running can be fun
As a competitive swimmer, I never thought running with friends could be so much fun. It makes the time go by faster, and the runs are just more enjoyable. Plus, running with others can push you to places you never thought you would go or break you out of a rut!
5) Running doesn’t get easier
When I first started running, I thought: “runners must love running all of the time.” That isn’t true, and we all have good and bad days. Some runs are awful, and the best part is saying they are done.
Running in 30 degree rain and wind isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but you sure feel like a bad@$$ when you complete the race. Our paces and fitness might quicken, but every runner has tough runs!
6) You cannot outrun an injury
I used to think when a small ache or pain would begin: “it would get better.” But it doesn’t, and in fact, it gets worse. A few days off can prevent a few weeks, months, or even years off. Stress fractures almost always start with small aches and pains. If you are unsure, take a few days off and reevaluate. You don’t lose fitness in a few days or even a few weeks.
7) Everyone is a runner
If you say you’re a runner, then you are. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run, your body type or age or the distance you’re training for. If you like to run, then you are runner.
I’ve learned a lot through running and met some of my closest friends, and even husband through the sport. The beauty of the sport is you are always learning, especially about yourself! Hopefully, in seven more years, I’ll have seven more lessons I’ve learned.
What have you learned through running?