Looking To Be Humbled? Take Up Running!

IMG_5352Someone I know recently told me that they would like to take up running.  They are athletic and can hold their own in just about any sport.  So when they told me this was something they would like to do they also had to shrug and admit that they were a bit uncertain of how they were going to handle it.

Running is way different than tennis or hockey or most other sports.  If you are new to running or even if you have been running for years but still struggle, it can be very humbling.  Heck, sometimes when I go to a new running group and try to keep up with runners who are pretty speedy, it is still very humbling.  Approaching running without much experience can be very daunting.

Some people may come to running with a resolution to lose weight or get back in shape.  It seems like a great idea and they see those lean runners sail by them and think it “looks” like a great idea.  But as soon as you put on those shoes and get a few minutes in, the humbling begins.  Very few other sports will so quickly tell you that you are new to it or stink as much as running will.  In fact it will scream at you, “Hey newbie, this is not going to end well.”  The screaming starts in your lungs as a slow painful burn and then creeps down into your legs.  You will struggle through that first run and it will seem like there is no end in sight.  By the next morning you may have forgotten about the previous day’s miserable experience.  You might even lay in bed and think about how today will be better, until you crawl out of bed.  “Hello!” your calves and quads will scream as they clench down hard.  Oh yeah, there is the misery of yesterday’s run.

Very few other sports will remind us just how out of shape we have let ourselves go.  Suddenly as you plod through your first mile, you realize that all those desserts you kept telling yourself wouldn’t really add up, stare you in the face.  All those extra happy hour rounds start to boil in your belly and the nausea sets in.

You feel slow, and terrible and it all is just a painful reminder.  Running is a serious reality check.  It will tell you when you have been away too long or have been eating poorly.  It will tell you that those lame workouts all winter at the gym were just that, lame.

It is for all these reasons and many more that I get so excited when someone tells me that they would like to start running or when I see someone stick with their new passion for running.  I know that pushing through that first rough start is half the battle.  I know that it is very discouraging to struggle to keep going even for a mile when all those lean and lanky runners come cruising by chatting with each other.

I have been humbled by running over and over again.  Those moments are fewer and farther between now and I have days where running gives me much delight.  But there are days when the humidity has me practically crawling home or when I run out of gas and I can barely make it through half of my planned run.  I have gone to races where I thought I would do well, only to have a teenager sail past me as I struggle near the end (this actually happened to me once as I was about to win a race and a 15 year old sailed past me with 100 feet left to go).  Running is an endless reality check.

Running up Bear Mountain was humbling and then some!

Running up Bear Mountain was humbling and then some!

That is why I love this sport.  And that is why I am thrilled to have heard from so many people both on this blog and outside reach out to me and tell me that they are interested or inspired to run.  During this humbling experience you will find new depths of your strength and realize there are endlessly amazing things about yourself.  Keep pushing and happy running!

35 thoughts on “Looking To Be Humbled? Take Up Running!

  1. This was a very beautifully written post. There is so much truth in everything you’ve said. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It can be humbling sometimes, but what I find more attractive is how beautiful it can be sometimes, to feel so fully alive. I suppose there all different kinds of runs, runs which humble us, runs which challenge us, runs which lift us, runs which grind us, and runs which find us.

  3. This is so true! And also why running is such a great sport – you’re never done because there is always a new goal to shoot for or a new way to push yourself.

  4. I identify with this so much! Its been incredibly humbling recently as I’ve made so many mistakes training that have led to injury and frustrating performance.

    As I’m sure you can attest to, all of those frustrations and humbling experiences grow you…they are so necessary!

  5. Very true! It is very humbling, I hadn’t thought of that. One of my buddies recently ran a half marathon in 103:54. That’s sub 5 minute miles. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him for one of them!

  6. You are so right with this. No matter how experienced you are it never gets completely easy – you get stronger, faster and set bigger goals. Sometimes a run will kick your butt and remind you that you have more work to do.

  7. Wonderful story and I love the way you describe running. It is very humbling, and what you did two days ago can affect today’s run. It reminds you that running is a full time commitment, a marriage of sorts, and it doesn’t mind smacking you across the face for staying out late!

  8. So true – what a great post! I have to stop myself sometimes when I say that I’m just going for a “little” 8km run because it’s become easy for me… but when I first started running I couldn’t manage even 3km’s without having to walk!
    And then you have an off day and it really shows you just how tough running can be.
    Which is why we love it 🙂

  9. Totally agree! I started running to get myself back in shape after a year hiatus post-college soccer. It was so humbling to run my first race knowing “hey i used to be a great athlete” and then have my mother (who is 30 years older than me) beat me. If you stick with it long enough, though, it is so rewarding and you see so much growth not only in the sport itself, but also in your character as a person.

  10. Another great bit of writing … and truth.

    Today I ran with a group for the first time. I am pretty sure I came in last. Humbling? Oh yeah … and then some. That 15 year old not only passed me …. but so did the 70 year old.

    But what was great? Its as you said. Running is a reality check. One that makes you realize … there is so much to do still. So much to live.

  11. Love this post!

    I met an older gentleman in Ireland who wanted to know how I liked my earbuds because his kept falling out of his ears when running. Then he asked me how I kept it up because he’d just started running and it basically sucked all the time. I told him he only thing I knew: keep at it because after just a couple months, it gets fun. I’m not sure he believed me, but I hope he gave it a couple months to find out.

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