Lessons in running, lessons in life

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short piece for the local parkrun news, entitled The View from the Back, where amongst other things I spoke about lining up at the start and holding onto the thought that this time I wouldn’t get left behind, this time I would be up amongst the pack.

This morning, tidying the kitchen, I was thinking about the new year, and how it always brings the thought that this year I’ll make the changes I’m always talking about, this year my life will stay on track for the whole year, rather than starting well and tailing off far too early.

That made me realise how running and living are in some ways the same – we don’t talk about the human race for nothing! So what has running taught me about how to live life better?

It’s not just about the time you spend running. It’s about the time spent preparing, training, making sure you’re in good shape – not eating too much, not lounging around wasting time, but eating things that will help build your body stronger and using time productively. Most of the battle is in your mind. Once you have that in the right place, everything else tends to fall in place.

You need to be careful about overdoing it – throwing yourself in overly enthusiastically is all very well until you hit problems, like an injury, and have to stop and rest. It’s much, much harder to pick things up again after a break than it is to keep going steadily.

The same goes with pace – you can exhaust yourself and then have to take breaks, or you can aim for slow and steady and then build on speed. Fast and then stopping might work in the short term, but it’s the steady pace that produces results in the end. And it can be far harder to get going after a break than it is to keep pushing on, however slowly you might move.

You need to push yourself, though – it’s too easy to get into a rut and keep going slowly and comfortably, without pushing yourself to extremes, but if you do that you’ll never really make progress.

Running by yourself means you can enjoy the view and the pace, but running with others provides motivation and incentive to push yourself further and faster – both have their place. Don’t focus on one too much and neglect the other.

Don’t forget to enjoy the journey! It’s no good doing marvellous things if you hate every step of it. Conversely, if you love what you’re doing, you’ll end up doing marvellous things. As I said before in this blog, focus on results and you’ll see no change; focus on change and you’ll see the results.

Routine is the key to all. If you lack motivation or enthusiasm, then you’ll fall back on routines. If the routine is laziness and lethargy, that’s the routine you’ll fall back to. If your routine includes time in the day spent doing certain things, then that’s what you’ll end up doing. It can be tough to break routines, and it can be tough to get out and do things. The trick is to balance those tough things out, so that they conflict, not build on each other.

Planning is important. Sheer enthusiasm and effort will only get you so far; if you want to progress beyond that, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the best way to get there. The same with equipment – you don’t need a lot, but you do need to consider what you use and make sure it’s suitable and you’re using it well.

However unpleasant it might look outside, once you’re out there and going, you feel so much better for it. Even the most unpleasant of runs leaves you feeling so much better afterwards, and ready to face the next one.

So as I stand on the start line and get ready to run, I can look forward to the journey ahead, and do my best, and if I keep doing that regularly I will reach the finish line feeling satisfied with what I’ve accomplished.



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  1. Great post.

  2. I love your comparisons! I’d never thought about running and life in that much relation before. I really enjoyed your post.


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