Why do you run? Why in the face of life issues do you feel compelled to lace up and get out the door? Why when there’s no race on the line are you still determined to run? Running lessons teach us so many ways to deal with all of that.
We all have many variations to answer this question, depending on whether the person asking is a non-running friend who is confused by our need to a fellow runner who is genuinely curious about what’s kept us going for two decades or made us go out for that very first run.
For me, my standard answer is a feeling of pride.Sounds ridiculous on some level, but I’m so freaking proud of myself every time I finish a run.
19 years in to it, running is still not easy for me.
But right now, pride is just a small part of why I NEED the daily run. I don’t believe it’s selfish in these times to choose your run, I believe it’s necessary.
What if it’s harder to run than normal?
In a crazy twist of life, when we need the run the most, it might feel like we suddenly don’t have the energy or the motivation. I did a video about this on Instagram and Facebook, but there are a couple of key things happening here that we need to validate:
- Cortisol, your stress hormone, is higher which throws your body out of whack
- Any massive mental, emotional shift and your body is going to feel that
- Schedules are thrown out the window, which breaks our routines
- Sleep might be off because of the added stress and changes, that will impact everything too
So if you NEED to run, but it’s not feeling great or you just can’t get motivated, it’s ok. Give yourself a break. Go for a walk, the runs will come back.
And in the meantime, it’s totally ok to CROSS TRAIN. Maybe your brain just needs something new, maybe it needs yoga so you’ll slow down and breathe, maybe it’s a good time for active recovery. DON’T ADD STRESS by worrying about missed runs.
14 Reasons We Need to Run in Tough Times
Many of the reasons that we need to run in these difficult times (whether that means a virus, a canceled race or in the bigger picture of our long term life stresses), is because of how running changes us.
The lessons running teaches us about dealing with life.
1. We Know How To Handle Discomfort.
Every single run requires us to accept some level of discomfort. Maybe it’s from running faster or farther or dealing with the chill of a winter run.
Knowing that we have worked through that discomfort, quickly flows over in to other areas of our lives. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to have our routines thoroughly trashed and our normal way of life completely upended…but we have made it through many uncomfortable runs and come out the other side stronger.
We’ll come through this as well.
2. We Know Progress is Not Linear
I haven’t PR’ed at every single race. In fact, it’s often a great one followed by a horrific race hitting the wall and then some just for fun before I find my body ready to hit the next level.
Which is to say, we know that this process of dealing with our emotions around changes might be swinging high and low, our progress as a country might look great and then backslide…again, we’ve been here, we can handle this.
3. We Know How to Create Habits (good or bad)
Habit is what gets you out of bed at 5AM on a Saturday to get in a long run. You do it week after week and suddenly it’s no big deal. Habit is what has you reaching in the office candy bowl at 3PM whether you’re craving sugar or not.
Right now we’re being asked to upend some habits, but luckily we’ve had lots of practice at creating habits. So we, as runners, might more naturally find ourselves able to create a new normal thanks to habits.
Read more on creating the right habits >>
4. We Know Fear is OK
I’m not a fearful person in most instances. I mean I don’t watch scary movies and I don’t like to do things that could result in bodily harm, but ya know I’m not afraid. I just don’t do them.
Since I don’t want to miss out on great experiences, I started to realize that things like race day nerves and my fear of failing spectacularly at a race with thousands of you to report to are just part of living. I can either let it hold me back or I can choose to step in to the fear.
Knowing that some fear makes us responsible adults and some fear is a liar. Learning the difference is key and running gives us tools to handle these tough times.
Read managing race day nerves for more >>
5. All Those Miles Make you Want to Be Healthier
I was always athletic as a kid, but for me running was truly the key to unlocking my lose the baby fat mode.
It taught me how to be a fat burning machine AND how to feed my body because I wanted to feel better running. It also just made me want to be more active and do things like hike with friends rather than eat.
Right now when we’re all feeling a little cooped up at home, it’s EASY to snack away the day. But something as small as a run, helps shift our brain in to a mode of choosing health.
Read more about my weight loss story >>
6. You Can Always Do Better
I think this might have been my unofficial childhood family motto.
It’s also likely the reason I’m so drawn to running. There really is no finish line. You can enjoy where you are, while looking to what’s next. A new distance, a new PR, a new race, a new job, a new friend.
It’s OK to want to improve your life. It’s OK even when things are going crazy to create a vision for what you want your life to look like and settle in to a calm knowing that you have the drive and power to get it done.What has running taught you about life? @runtothefinish shares her top lessons #runchat -- what's yours Click To Tweet
7. Every Step Matters
The finish line isn’t the only moment that matters in running. Learning to enjoy the process of training has shown me how to enjoy the process of blogging, learning, traveling and so much more.
If you can find the joy in the journey, the results are so much sweeter. Or honestly when things don’t go your way, it just doesn’t matter as much!
Which means now, we’re on a totally new unknown path and the only thing we can do right now is take one step at a time. Maybe we aren’t enjoying the journey persay, but like a long run we can find the highlights and the reminders that we’re coming out the other side stronger.
8. You’ll Never Know it All
I’ve consumed hundreds of running books, magazine, journals and articles galore on running (shoot I wrote a book on running!!). Each one reminds me that I will simply never know it all because WE change and what works for us changes.
Every time I think I’ve got life figured out it hands me a new lesson with a little smirk. That could be horribly frustrating or I could just be a life long learner.
Plus, running actually changes your brain! It could help you remember things for many more years.
Checkout the benefits of running (on the brain and body!).
9. We Know How to Get Out of Our Heads
“I have the Black Lung” – Thanks Zoolander for that statement which will never leave me. But has come to be my reminder that so much of what we think is wrong is in our heads! And we have control over those negative thoughts.
After many of my long runs, I find myself with a little cough and of course WebMD would say I’m dying, but really during long runs in the winter your lungs become dry and if you have any form of ashtma you can end up with a cough later in the day as your lungs try to recover from the lack of moisture…or something like that I’m no doctor.
No biggie! Now I remember that with every little niggle. It doesn’t mean something major is wrong.
10. Sometimes the Little Things Matter
On the flip side, there are a lot of little things that actually do matter. Now might not be the time for sweeping changes, but perhaps creating those little changes that allow us to more easily achieve the big goals.
- Spending a few minutes every day doing some hip exercises keeps my IT Band happy.
- Hugging and kissing my husband when he walks in, starts our evening on the right foot.
- Mailing a card for no reason, reminds friends that I care….little things, big results.
Funny card from Zazzle
11. We’re All On Our Own Path
In an era where we talk a lot about the comparison trap, I think what’s more fascinating is the wide range of lives we get to see every day. The notion that people get to their goals in so many different ways!
Some people need to run high mileage, some people thrive on HIIT workouts and some of us need Low Heart Rate Training…yet we all line up at the same place on race day and can get the same results.
Right now more than ever, it’s important to see that while we’re going through the same thing, we might all need to handle it differently and there’s nothing wrong with that!
- Figure out what makes you happy
- Determine what’s reasonable right now
- Take just the next step, not worrying about the whole process
Yup…life is like running.
12. Try Whether You Think You Can or Not
Every run teaches me that I can do more than I thought. I’m too tired to run and then suddenly 6 miles have flown by. But the key is that no matter how tired I felt, I started.
I could quit 5 minutes in if that’s all I had in the tank and I’d still know at least I tried. For me this is important when I get to scary things like scrambling up a mountain or agreeing to rappel down a waterfall.
13. Running Isn’t Therapy, But It Helps
We often say things like “running is my therapy” and in many ways it’s true. While it does not replace going to therapy and having someone we can talk to about things (checkout TalkSpace if you need something online right now!), it does make us feel better.
It creates that runners high, which is not from endorphins. It gives us all the other feel good things I’ve talked about here. It clears our mind. It resets our body. It takes us away from the TV and the single topic news. It gives us a chance to remember there’s so much more happening. It allows us to THINK.
14. I Am
These two words are beyond powerful. It takes us too long to decide we’re runners because we think it looks a certain way and no surprise that applies to all kinds of things!!!
Calling myself a writer? Can I do that without having written a book or getting paid by some larger company…does blogging count?! Or how about the other biggies that we struggle with: “I am a good parent.” “I am enough.” “I am strong.”
Pick your I Am and live it.
Using this phrase in my daily mindful mile has been a massive mental shift.
I’m sure running has taught me a million other things like why you should double knot your laces, which porta potties to avoid and how to always find my way home, but those will have to wait.
Running is about so much more than sweat and I don’t know how I was lucky enough to stumble in to it, but I hope my body agrees to let me keep going for miles and miles.
What has running taught you?
Has your reason for running changed over the years?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish