I’ve seen a lot of other people write about life lessons they have learned from running, practicing yoga, or other athletic hobbies. After having run 5 marathons, I thought it was my turn to take a stab at it!
Ask for support or advice from a friend
I really started to improve and become a better runner once I joined a running club. I found a group of girls that we all had similar running times and goals. We all had our different strengths in running and were able to push each other in whatever workout we needed to–track, tempo, hill, long run, or just getting out there for a few easy miles in the Boston winter.
We were also there to support one another when someone was just not able to run, if they were injured, to give advice on who to go to for PT or what new types of exercises to try. When you spend 3+ hours with each other running on the weekends, you might as well make some good friends in the process!
Being independent and strong is a great quality, but getting the advice and opinion from those you trust and respect can help you make even better decisions!
Hard work pays off
The times I PR’d in races are the times I really put my heart, mind, body, and soul into the training. I made sure I had tempos, hill and track workouts, long runs, recovery days and cross-training. I was really strict with my nutrition and made sure I got enough sleep.
Sometimes you need to really be dedicated and work hard to get great results. This is true for me with my engineering career as well as me working hard to find the right position for myself in my new fitness career.
Learn from your “failures”
As a runner, you know that even those times that you did put your heart, mind, body and soul into the training, it doesn’t mean that it will pay off in the way you expected. You can’t predict the weather or ensure 100% that you won’t get sick. The saying is true–running a marathon is putting all your eggs in one basket.
Regardless of whether or not my results have been what I have wanted or expected, I try to take away something good from each race. For example, with my hip injury I was able to take time to learn how important cross-training and core strength was as well as learn of my love of fitness classes. With my unexpected surgery, I was able to take some forced time off to study really hard for my Professional Engineering exam.
There will always be obstacles, but the key is to learn from them and become stronger and wiser for the next challenge.
Don’t take on too much
I still remember the year I tried to participate in Canstruction, the IIDA Fashion Show, work on overtime on one of the more intense projects at work, and give a presentation in Vegas while training for a half Ironman (HIM). I didn’t get to train as well as I should have for the HIM and struggled a lot through it.
After the HIM, I ran Boston Marathon 2012 and got myself injured. I trained with my regular training schedule and pacing but without the strong running base I typically had. The result? Over 2 years of hip pain because of a hip overuse.
I shouldn’t have tried to do everything all at once. Sometimes it’s okay not to take over the world and to focus on a few things and do those few things really well.
Rest days are important, especially the taper!
If you run every single day, your body will hate you. You will destroy your legs and not be energized and ready for your long run or race day. The taper is especially important because you need to both mentally and physically take a rest to prepare for such a big day.
Although I love to work very hard, I try to take a little bit of time each day for me otherwise I will go insane. This time is usually in the form of working out or catching up on a TV show with Dave.
When I took my Professional Engineering exam, I made sure to take the day off from work prior to the exam but not to study to relax and organize what I needed to bring to the exam. Just like on races there is no run that will make a difference a few days prior to the marathon, there was nothing that cramming would do for me. In the end, taking a little “me” time leaves me refreshed and makes me more productive for the next task at hand. It’s okay not to be 100% productive 100% of the time.
Life isn’t always about sticking to the plan
As much as training for a marathon is about planning and sticking to a plan, sometimes you need to be flexible. And even though you didn’t stick to the plan, you can still PR and/or have an amazing race.
Right out of college, I might have wanted to be like a lot of my other friends by now–married, own a house, have a dog and a child–but instead I am kicking ass in other ways and working a fitness startup. And as for Dave–he may end up working for a startup in something he is really passionate about too! It’s okay not to follow the plan of what everyone else is doing or what you think you “should” be doing.
I was the girl who hated running. I quit track in high school because I despised it so much. I never thought that I would ever try to attempt to run a marathon, but one day I decided to set my goals big and challenged myself. Without even have run more than a 5k, I signed up for my first marathon. Now here I am, with a blog called Little Miss Runshine and a job in fitness! Who woulda thunk?!
Question for you
What are some lessons you have learned from an athletic activity?