Running has taken over my life, literally. Once I ran to “get fit”, but I run to get fit no more. I run against myself to try accomplish something that I have not accomplished before. I don’t believe I run to lose weight, to get into shape, or run as part of a work out plan;
I run so that I prove to myself that if I want to do something, I will. Running is my hobby, passion.
“My sport is your sport’s punishment” is a snarky, condescending, yet accurate motivational quote I have seen for running. Steve Prefontaine once said he runs to see who has the most guts. Running is hard. Running fast when having a bad day when everyone else is having a good run is even harder. The basics of running are very easy. The advancement into your potential is very difficult.
Reaching your potential for running will require you to see if you really want it. Nothing more, nothing less. You cannot cheat. There are no short cuts. Do you need to lose 5 pounds to PR next month? Better forget that “cheat day”; cheat days do not exist for PRs. Do you want to run a marathon? Enjoy waking up while it’s still dark so you can fit that 20-miler into your schedule. Running 12 miles in the heat? Learn to actually take it easy today and bring a drink with you. You cannot and should not try to ironman it.
Running sees who you are. It sees if you want to run when it’s cold outside, dark outside, hot outside. It sees that you push yourself to the edge. And over the edge. Do you continue running after a couple of miles with tingly feeling? How do you treat your ailing thigh? Do you sit around waiting for it to heal? Or do you attack it by making it stronger. Some of my best lessons have been taught to me by injury. I learn more about my body when I have sustained an injury than when I have run well for weeks. It keeps me honest, as looking for ways to simultaneously prevent injuries while strengthening my core.
It builds community. Runners wants to run with other runners. You first learn to run by yourself then with others. You want to share your knowledge, experience, and time with someone else on the trails. We run for each other, not against each other.
Running creates goals. I have never heard of a runner who does not set goals. You cannot run without setting goals. How do you think you train for a 5K, 10K, or a 50K without laying out goals along the way? Somewhere on your running path your goals become self-fulfilling prophecies. They are not even goals anymore. Why not apply this logic to the rest of your life? Let goal setting and achievement become a part of who you are. Does it become bragging? That’s not my problem.
Running let’s my stats-geek come out. I have a Garmin 620. You have the standard pace, time, and distance. It also features a heart rate monitor. With that comes the geek. (NOTE: do not buy the Garmin 620 without the HRM because the cool, expensive features don’t work with out recording your heart rate.) It records my cadence (steps taken per minute), vertical oscillation (how much I bounce up and down when running), time my feet touch the ground, VO2 max (how efficiently you body uses oxygen), and race prediction. It creates a vicious cycle of wanting to do better the next time you run. Which will be tomorrow.
You learn that to be truly great at something, you have to truly try at something. Once you get good enough at running, good enough will not continue your running trajectory. Running will take over your life as it becomes a lifestyle. You diet becomes eminently important. Your rest becomes eminently important. How hard you pushed yourself today and if you stretched enough becomes eminently important. Through reaching your running potential you learn what it takes to reach your potential. At anything.
I take running one day at a time. I plan on what runs I have, but I take how far I take my running when I run. I want to push myself harder every time I go out. If I have a bad run, I want to do better on my next one. I take it as I do with everything in life: learn what I did today so I can do it better tomorrow. It’s that simple. It’s a metaphor for life: learn from your mistakes so that tomorrow can be better than today.
And the best part about running? Running is fun.