The longer I run the more I learn. There is something about the pursuit of a goal, the training, the physical exertion that always brings me to a place of reflection. And when I’m there I realize that running has taught me so many things about life. Here are a few of them:
The more you try to control the less control you have. I’ve learned this in a very real way the last two weeks. Going into the CHaD Half Marathon I was focused on the outcome. My effort and energy went into making that specific outcome happen, but when you boil it down you really have little control over the outcome. The only thing you can control is your attitude and effort in the MOMENT (thanks to Tere for helping me arrive at this conclusion). This is a lesson that I keep re-learning. I spent nine years learning this truth as I struggled with bulimia. The outcome I desired was to be free, to not be a slave to the behavior of binging and purging and the more I strove for that outcome the more illusive it was. When I admitted I was powerless, when I gave up striving for an outcome and learned to focus on the moment I was able to overcome an addiction that haunted me for nine years. Running is a delicate balance between setting outcome goals, training for them and learning to let go of those goals as you strive for them.
The impossible becomes possible when you start moving towards it. Running 26.2 miles seemed impossible when I set out to run my first marathon. But you take a step in the direction of that goal and slowly your training builds upon itself to the point where you are prepared to run that distance. Once you start putting one foot in front of the other and begin to move in the direction of the impossible it starts to become possible. Life isn’t all that much different. The thought of having two kids was overwhelming to me before my son Jack was born last year. I wondered how I would manage, it seemed impossible. It is a good thing that newborns sleep so much (except for at night) because that made our days seem manageable. We developed a rhythm to our days and what seemed impossible was possible. Running has taught me to move towards what seems impossible, knowing that it will become possible.
Cheering makes all the difference. In a race being cheered for and cheering for others makes a difference. Hearing people cheer for me during a race (especially if it is my husband and kids) gives me a boost and cheering for others does the same. There’s something about offering a quick little “keep it up” or “well done” to help the runner next to you: positive begets positive. The same is true in life. Encouragement makes a difference. I know that receiving encouragement from others puts a smile on my face. And offering it does the same. We all need it, we thrive on it. Running has taught me that giving encouragement is just as powerful as receiving it.
Embrace the Hill. I used to avoid hills. I’d try to map out flat routes. But I changed my attitude towards hills. Now when I encounter a hill I repeat the mantra “embrace the hill.” Simply changing the way I think about hills has made me a better hill runner. Life is filled with metaphorical “hills,” difficult circumstances that test our courage and strength. You can fight against them or you can embrace them. Running has taught me to embrace the difficult circumstances in life, to meet them with hope and faith.
There is Divine in the Ordinary. On most every run I encounter the divine. Whether it is a sunrise over the ocean or the solitude of a dirt road. There is divine in the ordinary. Being outside on the road brings me to a place where I notice. Too often we run around, busied by life. Running gets me outside, on the ground moving through beauty. Running has taught me that even the ordinary is divine. I see it more now in my kids, in the people I encounter on a daily basis, in the words I read and things that catch my eye: there is beauty and it is divine.
What has running taught you?
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