Lessons In Running

Yesterday I was out on my first run back in the wintery cold and I began thinking about all of the lessons I have learned from running.  Some are simple, some are life changing and others are just plain amusing to me.

First there are the vocabulary words.  I learned what cadence, VO2 max, and Gu are and I don’t giggle at the mention of fartleks anymore.  If you ask me which Forerunner I have or what my 10k PR is and I will I no longer will give you a sideways look.  I can hear someone talking about Ryan, Meb, or Paula and know exactly who they are.  If someone asks me if I foam roll, I know they aren’t talking about those old funny curlers my mom used to put on my wet hair before I went to bed at night.  By the way, I have no idea why we did this, seeing as how I have naturally curly hair.

I wondered why the guy at the shoe store asked if I did this!

I wondered why the guy at the shoe store asked if I did this!

I have learned that snot happens and toe nails fall out.  Weird things happen to your body and if you Google it, you realize its not that odd!

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I discovered that skin chafes in places I didn’t even know existed, which reminds me of the value of a good sports bra and running shorts!  Body Glide should be added to the above vocabulary list.

Training for a race will teach you that you should drink when you can and go to the bathroom whenever the opportunity presents itself.  I can’t count the times during a race (or secluded run) that I have spotted a fellow runner hiding behind a tree or a building because nature called.

I used to say that running was a great inexpensive sport.  That was until I got my first injury and began making appointments to physical therapists and podiatrists.  There were the compression sleeves for my achy calves, “40 dollars?!” I cried in shock.  And when I finally realized I was doing my feet and body no justice with my cheap sneakers I sucked it up and got a “real” pair of running shoes.  Apparently the definition of “real” is also “expensive.”

Running has taught me to be creative.  Don’t want to carry your keys or hear them clanging around in your pocket during a run?  I found a way to use hair ties and keep them on my wrists and under my Road ID.  Marathon training long runs during a rain storm and iPods don’t mix, so I tucked mine in one of those plastic bags that extra buttons come in with your clothes.  This is also why I keep ziplocks around to tuck everything in when I run.  No one likes when you go to pay for a water with a wet, sweat laden dollar!

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Most importantly running has taught me that I have to be patient.  It isn’t always easy and every day is different.  I can’t get upset with myself if the weather is suddenly hot and humid and I can’t make it through a run.  It’s ok that my muscles are tired and telling me I have to stop.

With that patience, I have also learned that my mind and body are capable of far more things than we can ever fathom.  Sometimes your mind will wander and say that you are tired.  But with a little persistence you can push that thought out of your head and realize you have a lot more in you than you realize.  Learning the art of distraction can make running a lot easier.  If you can learn to push yourself a bit more and in a different way each day, your body is an incredible thing and it will adjust.

Finally, I learned an interesting lesson last week.  Five miles into a 10 mile run my iPod died.  It was there that I learned that whatever song your iPod may die on, will likely loop in your head for the rest of your run.  Had I known this I would have chosen something other than Eddie Vedder to end the last 5 miles of my run on!  I should have known better because years ago I learned the value of a good hip hop song for running and how it can also make you go insane.  The art is using it during your run at the right time and never ending a run with one of said songs as it will annoyingly run on replay all day in your head.  I had a rough day hearing “Party In The U.S.A.” over and over once.  It was a nightmare!

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I saw this a few weeks ago at the gym and loved it.

They say you learn something everyday. I think you learn something every run.  What are the best lessons you have learned?

25 thoughts on “Lessons In Running

  1. OMG! Thanks for giving me the best laugh I’ve had in a week to start off what I thought was going to be a crappy day!! I have experienced a song looping in my head because of a dead iPod battery – I can SO relate! Awesome, awesome post!

  2. Running DEFINITELY requires patience! I am trying to learn not to beat myself up if I’m 5 seconds slower one day than the next-my muscles don’t give a hoot what garmin says, they are tired and must slow down sometimes.

  3. I look at this crazy sport as a battle, challenge, whatever word you want to use, between myself and the clock. I’ll never be a Paula, Meb, or Ryan and I’m totally okay with that. The only one I ever compete with is my furry running partner. She’s can single-pawdly(?) bring my average mile down by over a minute! 🙂

  4. I love everything about this. I have learned so many of the same lessons! The biggest thing running has taught me is to be patient with myself as well – to be forgiving of myself. If I can’t bang out a 9-minute mile today, who cares? Just go with the flow and listen to my body. If I give it the chance, it will do the best it can do that day.

    Thanks for sharing your lessons!

  5. I always thought Running was so straight forward, and although I dont compete, I do run often. Imagine my horror when I went to get some ‘proper’ running trainers and was asked questions I have no idea the answers to! I thought you just ran! If I can offer a suggestion, the bpm of most commercial ‘trance’ music is GREAT for motivation. Happy running guys!

  6. Truly brilliant, I need to know what some of those phrases are – but I’m a newb so no doubt they will come with time, or a trip to google.

    • Don’t sweat the phrases. The more you run they will show up more often. Soon you will realize your whole vocabulary has changed! Good for you for getting a start. Good luck and have fun!

  7. I absolutely love this post! I can relate to many of the things you have mentioned and I love the hairband trick for holding keys! (Incidentally, I often tie my keys into my shoelaces while running). I’m well aware of all fantastic ways in which running has enriched my life; both in terms of experiences directly related to running, but also my outlook on life in general. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. I LOVED this blog post! And the contraption you made with your keys is genius! I am always sticking them in my shoes, but then they start bugging me almost immediately. I will definitely try your trick now!

  9. I’m still learning many of these things, and especially now that I’m training for my first 10K (first race period). I’m not a patient person by nature, but distance running has definitely given and taught me patience in terms of not looking around at what everyone else is doing and comparing myself to them, and especially not going out too fast.

    I was also under the impression that running was an inexpensive sport. Then I got a proper shoe fitting. And then I learned those ratty cotton sweats and t-shirts wouldn’t cut it. Then when I decided that I was really going to do this seriously, there was all the other gear you mentioned plus all the prehab/rehab costs.

    Fartlek still makes me giggle but I have a really immature sense of humour ;-).

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