Truth: I’ve been wanting to blog about running for a few weeks now. Thanks to my shameless oversharing of not only SDV but things related to my personal life, a few friends on Twitter, Facebook, and the like have commented on my newly found running obsession. The best, and most ego-boosting part? They’ve asked me for advice on “how to start running.”
Woah. That’s a big request. How to start RUNNING? That’s almost like asking me how to start breathing. But oh yeah — I did give you a little tutorial on how to do that, didn’t I?
But in all honesty, I can’t teach anyone “how” to run. But I can inspire them — YOU!! — to start running and to reap the benefits that are meant for YOU. I say this because like anything in life, an activity will stimulate a person differently than the next. While running may be my inspiring life sport of choice, girls rugby may end up being yours. And the sound of pounding into other females with a ball in hand is NOT my idea of a good time, but you may learn more about yourself and train your mind and body to work in tandem during this highly focused contact sport.
My idea of a good time is seeing the benefits of a life experience, no matter the so-called flaws. Because flaws are part of character and experience too — they are worth celebrating just as much as the benefits and the positivity. Like a failure, you realize how the “negative” is really a positive through a learning & soul-searching experience. But like anything, these benefits only show forth with your conscious decision to adopt the perspective to see them.
So, what are the benefits of running? What are the benefits of attempting to try ANYTHING new? While I can’t be your running coach and take you to Central Park at 7AM to teach you how to run, I can attempt to jump start your drive to try running — or yoga, or eating for your health, or taking risks, WHATEVER! — and hopefully, you find the balance of a centered mind, body & spirit that’s right for you.
LESSON #1: Hobbies Are Healthy
I’m a sucker for work. Ask my roommate if I ever sit down to watch TV, and he’ll probably reply, “Oh, you mean like in 2004?”
While most of my work gives me pleasure because I believe so strongly in what I’m doing, there also arrives a moment when I need to step back and have alone time. To do something strictly for me that is a conscious decision to step back from anything that qualifies as “work” under government or self-definition.
Running is work, yes, but it is also a hobby. And it is a hobby that allows me to break free from my computer, my phone … oh gosh, all of that technology that drives our daily behavior — and just get outside and RUN. The newfound hobby has not only benefited my overall happiness thanks to a daily surge of endorphins, but it’s benefited my understanding of why I want a 360 degree life. Why forevermore, I do not want a job that dictates all areas of my life. To be cliche, I want to “work to live,” not “live to work.”
Giving yourself a hobby — knitting, cooking, photography, rock climbing, whatever! — that keeps you away from digital technology is like pulling a girl out of New York City and putting her into Middle America. Hello, real world and real life! Thanks to running, I’ve been able to adopt — without criticizing myself — other “relaxation” hobbies into my life. It hasn’t come easy [like I said, I’ve conditioned myself to be a workaholic], but in finding small pleasure in activities that are just for YOU, you are learning the value of seizing the day through the balance. And the balance, I’ve learned, is the better path of self-fulfillment and life satisfaction.
LESSON #2: Sports Create Successful Daily Structure
Ben Franklin was right: “Early to bed and early to rise WILL make a man healthy, wealthy & wise.” What he really meant: Creating structure in your life will help you to direct and focus your energies toward your deserving success. With proper rest and revitalization, you will have the steady mind to make the appropriate decisions. You will have the daily schedule that allows you to complete “first things first,” — whether it’s a daily run at 7AM or writing for your blog every day during your lunch break.
There are so many things in life that try to strangle our structure. Like someone grabbing hold of our necks, we suffocate to hold onto streamlined breathing in our daily lives. Because running has become a priority for me, I have been able to prioritize my sleeping and eating patterns more than ever before. Call it an excuse, “Oh, I have to run. I can’t go out.” or “Oh, I’m a runner, so I don’t drink anymore.” Not that I say those exact things — but you get the point. Having goals leads to structure which leads to an easier time of saying NO to things you don’t want to do, allowing you to do what you want to do and doing so in a structured, successful way.
LESSON #3: The Human Spirit is Stronger Than the Mind & the Body
“I know I can … be what I wanna be.” It’s a line from a NAS song — remember, the obnoxious chant of children rhyming the chorus over and over again?
Well, it’s a chant worth chanting, because yes, you CAN be who you wanna be and do and experience what you want out of life. Running has taught me the truth in this mantra. Pushing myself to the finish line, despite my body and mind beginning to falter and quite honestly telling me to STOP, has taught me that the human spirit is more resilient than anything else we possess in the physical sense of our body. By learning the strength of my spirit through running, I’ve learned that my spirit can take me anywhere to do anything. I just have to imagine a goal as a finish line — and in moments of pain, like a run, I can keep on pushing and gain that extra momentum thanks to the strength of my spirit and its belief in the physical abilities of my mind and body over all odds.
LESSON #4: Loving Yourself is the Best Love of All
This is something that I continue to struggle with everyday: Loving myself. Not just loving myself in a way that equates to a new outfit or enjoying a slice of cake for dessert. But that inhibited, hands-down-awesome love of who you are, were, will be, can be and may never be. Yes — what you may NEVER be, too, is worth celebrating — because it is these differences that separate one person from the next and give each of us our deserving individuality and universe-given gifts.
How do you love yourself? For me, it’s not being so hard on myself. And in running, or any other sport where you are setting goals and pushing yourself to exceed them, it is very easy to fall trap to the “I have failed, I am worthless, I did all of this training for nothing” mentality. But in learning to love myself more and more each day, I can now channel that self criticism to self celebration — “I have succeeded, I have so much worth, I accomplished all of this training by coaching myself,” etc.
Running has reminded me to love myself because if you don’t love yourself while running, the beating and bearing of the elements upon your body will bring you down. This is why lesson #3 is so important — it is your spirit that will set your love for yourself free.
LESSON #5: Priority is Saying No In Order to Prioritize YES
Running has pushed me to do things that I never imagined I would be able to do. Run 10 miles along the Hudson River every Saturday? Get up at 7AM to meet my running partner for a 6-mile jaunt in Central Park two times a week? These are highly disciplined behaviors that I used to dismiss as “easy for people with more time.”
Well, you have the time — we always have the time — but what we need to incorporate to use that time is the priority. And sometimes creating priority means you have to eliminate, which can be hard to do. Why would you want to cut ties with something in your daily life that seems to be benefiting you just fine? Well, let’s think for a moment. If you are thinking about pursuing a new activity — say, going to yoga everyday at 5PM — but think you CAN’T because you don’t want to leave work until 5:30, well, how about re-prioritizing your life to go into work early and therefore leave early for that class? What it will take is shutting down your computer early and remembering that other people’s emergencies at work aren’t yours. Your emergency at 5PM? Making it to yoga to give you the centered balance to be a more efficient and effective employee.
It’s your life. It’s your priority. It’s your NO’s as much as your YES’s.
For a quick video of how I embodied pain at the finish line of my last race [a 1/2 marathon, 13.1 miles] — and was passed in the last 10 yards by another female runner who picked it up at the end as I struggled to stand straight — click below! Failure? Nah. An unforgettable awesome moment? YES!