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