Running is a very important aspect in my life. This pastime has become more than just a form of exercise. I run for empowerment. I run to lessen stress. I run to feel good. I run because I get bored. Even when I should be resting and letting my body recuperate, I'd rather be running. Running is a beautiful outlet for me and through embracing this sport, I have learned so much about myself.
Here are five important lessons I've learned on my running journey.
- Your body is stronger than you know. Until I took that first step and truly pushed myself, I had no idea what I was capable of. It has taken me a very long time to truly understand and respect my body and my abilities. I fill myself up with healthy fuel and positive mantras. Every step I take is an accomplishment. I see my strength every day; I know I can do anything.
- Scary goals are the best kind. Saying that you’re going to set out to run a half marathon is much different than saying you have a half marathon coming up in six weeks. When I first started my weight-loss journey, I had announced I was going to start running but I never marked a race on my calendar. It wasn’t until I finally signed up and paid the race fees that I realized, “Shit. I’m actually doing this.” With a race looming, I had to put myself in gear and push. Six half marathons later, I still see these dates as scary, but I’m looking forward to every race.
- It’s OK to go slow. No matter the pace, running is still an accomplishment. Early in my career, I yearned to run fast and have jaw-dropping times, but through trial, error and self-reflection, I learned that fast times mean nothing. No matter if you jog or sprint, you’re still a runner.
- Food is fuel. As delicious as some dishes may be, they may not be the fuel your body needs before a race or long run. Once again, my stubbornness prevailed and it took me some time to perfect how to nourish my body properly. Take my word for it: it is no fun to make frequent bathroom stops after a long run. Although I’m still mastering the art of carbo-loading and finding the balance between under eating and over fueling, my gut issues during and after races and runs have improved. The desire to keel over after a long run has subsided. And the thought of eating whatever I want because "I worked out" no longer lingers.
- Built-in underpants are a God send. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered what the built-in underpants inside my running shorts were actually for. I didn’t fully grasp the advantages to ditching my duds and wearing only running shorts. Holy cow, I should have tried this sooner. I no longer suffer from wedgies and I don’t feel “weighted” down. This has made all of my runs so much more enjoyable…and comfortable.