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It always amazes me when I stop and think about how long I have been running. This past September I passed the 18-year mark. When you consider all the life that can happen in 18 years, it really makes you stop and think about the journey. That is what running is, when you really think about it. One long, winding, unpredictable journey which leads you into the great unknown.
In John Steinbeck’s book Travels with Charley: In Search of America he states, “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” Running is like a raging river…it twists you, it turns you, but for better or worse it will carry you onward. Along the way you learn may valuable lessons, ones which not only apply to running but apply to life in general.
Here are three important lessons I have learned along the way:
Running Hurts. The only consistent thing you can count on in running is getting hurt. You will get blisters, cuts, bruises, and chafing. You will likely get shin splints, knee pain, and twist an ankle or two. It is inevitable. The same can be said for life. You will get bumps and bruises, stress and heartache. In the end, however, all wounds heal and you become stronger for your trials.
You Get Out What You Put In. You are not going to run a faster mile or find that hill at the end of the block easier to climb unless you put in the effort. You have to be willing to push your limits in order to improve. Getting faster requires speed work; getting stronger requires strength training. There are no shortcuts when it comes to self improvement. The same can be said for your career, your marriage, your personal life. If you are not willing to work at it, you will not see improvement or success.
Run Inspired or Do Not Run at All. As Chuck Palahniuk said in his novel Diary, “All the effort in the world won’t matter if you are not inspired.” You can run hard every day all day, but if you do not have inspiration driving you, you will quickly burn out and lose all interest in running. There are many ways to get inspired, whether it be to join a running group, run for a charity, or even set little goals for yourself along the way. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you are passionate about, otherwise you will not succeed. I have found immense inspiration from the HOLSTEE Manifesto, and I encourage you to check it out as well:
Everyone’s journey is different, both in running and in life. Your path may vary and your obstacles will differ, but just remember the most important lesson of all:
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”