As their long lean legs rounded the track, arms pumping and faces contorted they threw there bodies across the finish line hoping to gain just that split second edge to make the podium.
Crumpling to the ground the first place and last gasped and considered their moment with the best in the world. The 2017 Track and field World Championships might seem like the last place one would feel like a beginner.Image from Freeplay Magazine
But that’s the dirty little secret long time runners don’t mention: we’re all beginners.
It’s why some people jog around the block for years before working up the courage to call it a run.
It’s why we can finish a half marathon and then duck our heads shyly when someone says “wow you’re a real runner“…”no, no, I’ve only done a half.”
It’s why someone who has run a marathon in every state, but is now focusing on breaking 20 minutes in the 5K feels like a newbie runner though many of us would say “you’re a beast and a freaking awesome athlete.”
We know intuitively that in running there’s always more and it’s about what we did yesterday.
Another level, another challenge, another version of ourselves.
This isn’t to say we aren’t real runners, but I’ve covered that mindset in depth. This is about why it’s actually a great thing to be a beginner for as long as you can.I love to coach those who still have the beginner mentality in any stage of their running career because it means they’re open to learning. Running is a never ending journey, so if we’re learning we can enjoy the highs, the lows and the shiny new PR’s.
Secret Benefits of Being a Beginner
We all want to be the one who has the answers, the expert, the person who can solve anything. I mean I love saying that I’ve been running 15 years, completed 8 marathons and have run in like 20 countries.
All of that makes me puff up a little with pride, but being a long time runner doesn’t mean I’m not a beginner and enjoying all the benefits that come with that mindset:
Not a Know It All
It’s such a relief not to need to have all the answers! You can ask, then truly listen, to other runners who have experience. You can be open to the physical therapy recommendations or open to trying something wildly new like dry needling.
You don’t expect to be great the first time you show up to Zumba, but after running for awhile suddenly every run is judged on a good to horrible scale. Being a beginner means errors are part of the process and each run doesn’t have to hold such weight.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
Celebrations Are Constant
When you start running there’s a celebration all the time! First run without walking, first 5K, first shiny new PR….years later you take all the little moments for granted. With a beginner mindset it’s easier to celebrate the first 800 repeat at a new pace, the new mile time, the way you feel so much better after long runs than you ever thought possible.
And aren’t all those celebrations part of what kept pushing you in an enjoyable way initially?5 Reasons It's Great to be a Beginner - #mindset #fitness Click To Tweet
Less Fear of Looking Foolish
If you can runs for years and still cultivate the learning mindset of a beginner, then what’s the big deal about trying to surf, giving a presentation to the board, trying to pull together an outfit of non-workout gear for NYC friends. Now you know that you’re always learning, so maybe there will be some flubs, but hey you’ve survived that and it’s made you stronger, smarter and less stressed!
Additionally, since you’ve been open to learning you’ll remember all the times your strengths allowed you to achieve things you previously thought impossible because you kept building on each little success.
Humility for Connection
Maintaining the beginner mindset also ensures you don’t become to big for your tiny runner briefs. Who wants to chat with the runner that knows everything about everything and makes you feel small? No one.
Who wants to talk to the runner who’s passionate and excited and full of stories about mistakes and lessons learned? EVERYONE. It’s fun to relate to each other and part of why we have such an amazing community! Feel free to mention your kick ass sub-3 hour marathon, but maybe not every other sentence.
“I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.”
– Abraham Maslow
Whether you’ve been running for 15 years like I have or just bought your first “real” running shoes, we’re all beginners. Each run is a lesson in perseverance, trusting out body, training our minds and finding out what we’re capable of achieving.
Of course the longer you run, the lessons change and you become a beginner in new ways, but still a beginner because you now know that’s where the magic lives.
Do you feel like a beginner?
Can you embrace a beginner mindset?
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