Personal Lessons I’ve Learned from Running

Just another gorgeous night in my little corner of the world. unnamed (26) 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. unnamed (27) 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.

And that’s not even touching my deeper eating disorder issues that I’ve talked about a little bit here and here. Those issues have a lot to do with seeking perfection and control, too.

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!



  1. September 11, 2014 / 7:29 am

    I loved this post Kristina. I definitely emphasise, I can also be very competitive and although I sometimes get that way about my running, it’s done so so much for me. It’s become my stress reliever and the one thing that’s always there for me when the going gets tough!
    I’ve struggled with an eating disorder in the past and running really has helped with my ongoing recovery. I’m currently working on a post about this! Running really helps me appreciate how strong my body is – strong not skinny!

    • September 11, 2014 / 12:01 pm

      I can’t wait to read your post on it, Nessa. I have found that blogging about my eating disorder from time to time has been really therapeutic. I feel the same way, running makes me feel strong and sane!

  2. September 11, 2014 / 8:09 am

    Great point! Its so true that its all about the journey. Especially with marathon training…you put in months of work for 1 race and if you can’t appreciate the journey to get there than its probably not going to be worth it. I have also had to learn to take things slow and the progress will come in time.

    • September 11, 2014 / 12:02 pm

      I felt so cheesy writing that the “joy is in the journey” but I really do feel that way about training. I think that’s why I don’t sign up for many races, I just like the freedom of running without pressure or constraints. When it gets close to a race I start getting anxious and worried about time goals and things like that, which can be healthy but it can also drive me close to the edge!

  3. September 11, 2014 / 8:14 am

    I think I have learned more about you in this post than any other post! Running has taught me a lot as well. Particularly, the tough runs. I feel like they have just made me so much stronger mentally.

    • September 11, 2014 / 8:14 am

      Plus, (I forgot to add) I freaking figure out my LIFE during a run!

      • September 11, 2014 / 12:03 pm

        Haha, running is really helpful like that! It gives us plenty of time to think when we have a lot of things to sort through!

  4. September 11, 2014 / 8:48 am

    What a super great post!!!
    I think it’s so true that sometimes with running it force us to slow down. There will always be people who can run further and/or faster but no one can run for us and give us the sense of pride and accomplishment as we meet each new running goal!!!

    • September 11, 2014 / 12:04 pm

      Exactly! And the really awesome thing about running is in the grand scheme of things even if you don’t meet your specific goal on a specific day, you’re still going to be pretty happy because of the endorphins that hit you no matter what 🙂

  5. September 11, 2014 / 9:53 am

    I loved reading your story Kristina 🙂 It sounds like running has really saved you from a lot of demons!

    Interestingly, running has played sort of the opposite role in my life that it has in yours. I don’t strive for excellence in my job or career or even in school (although I always did well in school anyway). My job, to me, is something to support myself. I will never love work the way I love the other things in my life. With running, I finally found a competitive outlet. I love that I have something in my life that is objective and measurable and the results speak for themselves. The GPS watch doesn’t lie (well, mine does, but that’s another topic).

    If I beat someone in a race, it’s because I ran faster. That’s all there is to it. It isn’t because I’m more popular or outgoing or well-networked, or the boss likes me better, or I came from a wealthier family. I really value fair, merit-based achievement, and running is a haven for that. If I work hard, I can get results. Anyone can – no matter who they know or where they come from. 🙂

    • September 11, 2014 / 12:10 pm

      Really great point, Hanna, and I completely agree with it!

      Running touches all of us in a different way, which I think is really reflected in our goals.

      I have been incredibly impressed and motivated by your training runs. You have been making huge, steady improvements and I can’t wait to hear all about your marathon and the time you’re able to throw down in October!

  6. September 11, 2014 / 10:15 am

    Great post. I have to keep reminding myself “this is a process.” I’ve always looked at sports as putting in hard work and you can see quick results. You can’t do that with running or you will injure yourself. So I know it will take around a year for me to be where I want to be, it’s tough to swallow but if you want to do it the right way, it takes time.

    Again fantastic post!

    • September 11, 2014 / 12:12 pm

      Yes! It’s sometimes hard to think of this as a process. After I finished my first half marathon I wanted to sign up for a full marathon right away, but I had to remind myself that this is all a process and taking the fast track won’t necessarily result in the best experience, Running is a life long sport and we have many years left to get where we want to be with our main running goals!

  7. September 11, 2014 / 1:29 pm

    Loved this post : ] Glad I came to your blog today.. I needed a reminder why I love running so much, and I think that is why. Exactly all that you said.

    • September 11, 2014 / 9:58 pm

      Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for stopping by my little part of the blog world 🙂 Running is the best!

  8. September 11, 2014 / 2:45 pm

    I love this for many reasons but mostly because you are such a better place now 🙂 I fought those demons and have over-cardioed and sadly even Ipecac syruped myself so I understand the exhaustion and unhealthy place that is. It took me along time to win that battle completely and funny, since I found running so late in life it didn’t play a role, but running does now give me the strength to know i will never go back to that. I think I love running because so many times in my life when stuff is really hard I would throw in the towel, but with running for some reason I get enough out of it to keep me wanting to push on 🙂 Oh and congrats on all the “overachieivng” I see that as an awesome thing, because it gave you options many folks take a lifetime trying to figure out.

    • September 11, 2014 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you, Karen. I am so sorry to hear about the Ipecac. I never used it myself but I definitely abused other things that helped me purge. I’m incredibly glad that we’re both in a much better place now!

      I feel the same way about running, thank God for it!

      The overachieving bit has definitely helped my life in many ways, but it also put a huge strain on a lot of the important relationships in my life. I’m trying to strike a better balance now between stretching my limits but making sure I’m still present and appreciative of what I have now.

  9. September 11, 2014 / 3:49 pm

    What I really liked about this post (besides the awesome deepness behind it!) is that you showed that sometimes we all just need to find a “better spot” in our lives. It’s totally cool how running was able to help you do that! I hope other people are able to find something in their lives like running does for you.

    • September 11, 2014 / 10:10 pm

      Thank you, Cy! I have heard that a lot of people with addictive personalities end up attaching themselves to running after letting go of the harmful things they used to do. There are a million reasons why I think this is the case, but I guess none of those reasons really matter. It just matters that running helps us grow into better people!

  10. September 11, 2014 / 8:58 pm

    What a wonderful and honest/personal post. Thanks for sharing! I am so glad you found running too then, for all the happiness and life lessons it has brought. You will run those ultras soon too, I have no doubt about it. 🙂

  11. September 13, 2014 / 11:56 am

    I totally agree…running has taught me so much about progress, “failure”, redemption, and success. It has changed my view of what “good enough” is…and that little perfectionist in me has loosened up, too.

  12. September 14, 2014 / 5:35 pm

    It sounds like we have a lot in common, Kristina. Self-reflection is so important from time to time. It’s good to acknowledge and understand how the things we are investing our time and energy into are affecting our lives. I learned so much about you while reading this post – and connected with you in so many ways. I’m glad you have found something, like I have, that has changed your perspective on so many things. Cheers to running!!