Everything I Needed to Know About Getting Through Tough Times I Learned Through Running

changeyourlife

Dearly Beloved, We are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life. Electric word, Life – it means forever, and that’s a mighty long time….

Bonus points for whoever guesses the crazy 80’s song that kicks off with these lyrics!

Colby and I have hit some rough spots lately – health issues, family health issues and loved ones who are simply hurting. One thing we have in common is that we both are people that others turn to in times of crisis. People know we can deal. We can comfort. We won’t lose our sh*t. And we’ll never turn away from someone in time of need. We both love this about ourselves (if we do say so {pats back}).

Not surprisingly, I think that some of this ability to keep it together –no matter what– has been developed, or at least strengthened, through running. Talk about bang for your buck in an exercise session.

I honestly believe that if someone takes up running and it doesn’t change them in some important way on the inside, they’re not doing it right.

Here are some of the things that running has taught me about getting through the tougher parts of this crazy thing called life:

1. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean you stop. Of course it’s going to hurt sometimes. Any time you put yourself out there, you risk getting hurt. This doesn’t mean that you just stop running. Or stop living. Or stay in bed and avoid people. Acknowledge the pain, respect the pain, but keep moving. Unless you truly can’t. Because…

2. Sometimes being hurt actually does mean you stop. Know yourself. Know when a strain has become a tear. Or a break. Develop confidence from pushing through pain and difficult times when you are able, so that you will know when the pain is too much and you just need to STOP. And rest. And heal. And regroup so you can move on when you are ready.

3. There will always be bumps in the road. Count on it. Try to avoid them. When you can’t, face them head on with your eyes wide open and tackle them as best you can. (Can’t help but mention that anytime there is a literal bump in the road, Colby and I seem to trip over it and fall flat on our faces. We do much better with the figurative ones, thankfully.)

4. Pain is temporary, Glory is forever. Of course you will end up broken down and in pain at some point. But the pain itself will probably be temporary, and how you handle the situation will affect how you feel about yourself forever. It is almost always easier to stop. Give up. Give in to the pain. Avoid the person or situation that is the source of the pain. But if you give up, how will you feel about it later? Most people seem proudest not of their PR races, but of the difficult races that they refused to quit. The races where they showed strength, courage and grace. Years later, you will no longer feel the pain so deeply, but you will still feel the pride of knowing you didn’t give in and didn’t give up.

5. You’re never truly alone. There is always someone else who has gone through whatever it is that hurts you. Someone who can relate. Someone who cares. Someone who can help you. And sometimes it is a random bystander who touches you in some way and helps you to keep moving…so be open to every source of support.

6. But in the end, it’s all up to you. You might not be alone, but you are definitely the only one living your life. Just like you are the only one running your race. So in the end, all the support in the world cannot carry you through difficult patches. The buck stops with you, and you have to be able to reach inside of yourself for strength, too. Make sure it is there.

7. Keep your eyes on the prize. The prize will vary based on what you are facing. If you are having a great race, the prize might be a PR. But if you are tired, injured, hot, cold, sick, the goal might be just to cross the finish line. And that in itself is always a worthy goal. Keep your focus and go for that goal – and that goal only. When life throws you a curveball, the prize should be getting through it in the best way possible, not getting through it perfectly while going for your black belt in karate and running for PTA President and renovating your house and training for a marathon. So when you are handed a curveball, it’s time for a little triage.  STOP. Breathe. Assess. Reflect. Prioritize. Then focus on your goal and let the rest fall away. There will be other races. And there will be other times to pursue different goals.

8. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. We have all had the race that started one way and ended quite differently. Don’t write off an experience, a challenge, a person, until it is truly over. If you are not at the finish line yet, there is always hope that things will improve. Circumstances can change in ways you never could have imagined. It’s just part of the wonderful, challenging, magical mystery of life (and racing).

9. It’s a Marathon. And a Sprint. Sure is. Some parts of life fly by at lightning speed and your challenge is to control your pace in order to slow down enough to enjoy them. Others are difficult, seem to drag on forever and you need to draw on your endurance to get through them. If you can’t handle both? Well, then, I’d say it’s time to revisit your training.

What have you learned through running? How has it changed you as a person?

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35 thoughts on “Everything I Needed to Know About Getting Through Tough Times I Learned Through Running

    • Okay, this was awesome. I have drawn on running so many times this year to get me through some tough situations. Specifically some work stuff last month that was insane. I just kept repeating to myself “If you can run a half marathon you can get through this”. The mental benefits of running far outweigh the physical.

      • Don’t you love having a mantra like that you can tell yourself when you need a boost? Agree on the mental benefits. Don’t know what I would do without running. Seriously. And if I had to stop running today, I’d still be able to enjoy the mental benefits for the rest of my life.

  1. Ah #truth to all of these! I particularly like #3. It makes me think of the quote that’s something like “the only way to get past it is to go through it”. We can’t avoid the hills or wall if we’ve hit it. We just have to suck it up and keep trudging on. Eventually it’ll be over and we can enjoy smooth sailing again for a bit 🙂
    Running taught me that I’m capable of more than I know. Our limits are only self perceived, but if you forget the watch (forget the people, forget whatever it is you’re conscious of in whatever area of life) and just DO IT, you might surprise yourself.

  2. True words to be sure. I can’t begin to count the times I have been in a tough spot and then realized that whatever mess I’m in that it’s no worse than being at mile 18 and feeling like I want to flag down the golf cart and let them drive me across the finish line. But I never do. They say if you have questions about yourself that you want answered then run a marathon. I say – Wait on the curve and go with it.

    • I agree completely. Start distance running, distance racing, and you will get to know yourself in a whole different way. And if you can push through The Wall – well, you can push through anything.

  3. LOVE.EVERY.WORD.

    Running has taught me so much. Training for races has taught me I have so much more strength than I originally believed. And since we all know overcoming those mile marker obstacles is 75% mental and 25% physical, I have learned that I really can accomplish anything I set my mind to… It is literally stunning how my life has changed over the past year and a half.

    Here’s to keeping our eyes on the prize, and going for the glory!
    Thanks for a great message. 🙂

    • Fallon – you’re stronger than you know. I forgot to include this one – let’s call it #10. Even if you forget all the others, keep that at the top of your mind and it will carry you a long way.

  4. Breathe, Assess, Reflect, Prioritize. BARP. I LOVE IT. Kind of sounds like barf, also an integral part of running. There’s no doubt there would be alot, a LOT more crazies on this planet if so many people did not run, myself included. I love when people hear I have finish a marathon on my bucket list and tell me I’m crazy. Oh, buddy…you have NO idea how much worse I would be if that wasn’t on it! I’d have cuckoo’s nest written all over me. So be thankful for this insanity we call running. Otherwise those damn lawyers, (oh sorry!), would have a whole lot more work to do. 🙂

    • No offense take. I’m an M&A lawyer who specializes in tax structuring. Most people don’t hate “my” kind of lawyer. At least that is what I tell myself.
      BARP. Has a nice ring to it.
      I would be rocking in a corner if I didn’t have running in my life. No joke.

  5. Loved this post. Only this year have I really discovered running… and in it a different side of myself. Running has taught me SO many things, one of the many being that no matter how much the little voice in my head says I can’t do it, says NO NO NO… I don’t have to listen to that. I just gotta put one foot in front of the other and say i think i can, i think I can… :)! Much like anything else; most of the time I am capable of anything if I put my mind to it and take it one tiny bit at a time! 😀

    • So true! There is one particular quote that always plays in my head—The body achieves what the mind believes. It’s become my anthem!!! Love that you’ve found running—and in turn found a bit more of yourself!! 🙂

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