Personal Lessons I’ve Learned from Running
Just another gorgeous night in my little corner of the world. It was drizzly all afternoon which brought out a big rainbow that lit the water up with a pretty pink hue. Last night was the first time I have run down to the beach in maybe a week and a half and it felt really good to be back at my happy place. So, yesterday I was reading Kristen’s post on How Triathlon Has Changed Her Life. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend that you do. It’s a post that inspired a lot of self-reflection in me and I think it will do the same for you.
Like Kristen, I have always been a perfectionist. I went to grad school for a lot of reasons, one of them being I couldn’t settle for just an undergraduate degree because “everyone” gets those.
At academic conferences I couldn’t present just one paper, I had to present two because “everyone” else was presenting one.
I obsessed over my career and had to make more money and have a better job than my peers. And when it wasn’t good enough to have a great job I decided I had to quit that job and support myself by running my own business. I became the proud owner of a marketing consultancy at the age of 24. I did that for about two years until the owner of the agency I’m at now recruited me with a really good offer.
Up until I was 26 or so I chased this distorted NEED to “rise above” in all areas of my life. Running was extremely humbling for me. When I started, like most new runners, I was really bad at it. I think part of the reason why I didn’t quit running is because I thought I could find a way to perfect it too.
Then somewhere along the way running taught me a lesson – it taught me that life is a journey worth experiencing. I don’t know if I was just tired and at a point in my life where I NEEDED something (anything) to help me slow down and running just happened to fill that role, or if running can really teach us these big life lessons, but it did for me. It was something I couldn’t perfect quickly. I couldn’t realistically say “I am going to run a 1:45 half marathon in 3 months” and make it happen. My body couldn’t have done it. Not after the way I had treated it for years with lack of sleep and the many other awful things I put it through with my eating disorder.
For the first time in a long time I had to settle in for the long haul, and I found a new me there. One who, for the first time, started feeling happy with her life. I found the part of me that could look at what I had accomplished and think, “wow, cool” instead of “that’s not nearly good enough.”
Running means so much to me because it snapped me out of the awful uphill battle I was fighting and showed me that there are so many things worth experiencing RIGHT NOW. It taught me that the joy is in the journey. Being focused on an end goal is fine, but enjoying the experience along the way is important too.
Sometimes when I think about my running goals I wonder if that’s part of the old me peeking through. I ask myself, WHY do I want to run an ultra? Is it because “everyone” runs marathons and I have to go above and beyond that to prove some point to myself? It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think I just really like running.
I want to get faster because I think it will make me a more complete runner, but mostly I just want to run. Running has changed my life for the better, and the only way I can repay running for what it’s done for me is to keep on keeping on!