Signs of Success and Much Thanks to Running

The other day I was reading a blog post from A Marathon Runner’s Wife and it absolutely struck me.  Her post was titled “What Is Success?” and she linked to this great read: 20 Signs You’re Succeeding In Life Even If You Don’t Feel You Are.  I absolutely loved her post and I really loved reading through the 20 points.  Some I latched onto more than others.  But I think a lot of us have moments every now and again, or often, where we question if we have made the right choices in life or have headed in the best direction.

When I was younger I certainly would have assumed that success came with a grand job or a big figure paycheck.  Perhaps a large sized house might have declared success.  But as I have grown older I have realized that success comes in many different shapes and sizes.  It usually has very little to do with money or jobs and a lot more to do with our happiness.

Running has certainly been a huge factor in helping change my perspective on how I see success or how it might be measured.  Many a morning or late afternoon I spend countless miles alone with my thoughts, admiring nature and other fellow runners.  Over the years I have watched myself transform as a runner and cheered on either out loud or in my head, hundreds of runners as they push themselves to new limits.

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This sport isn’t easy.  For some, running a marathon or doing an ultra might be a measure of success but to many simply getting out the door and getting past that first mile deems the day a success.  Knowing that each person has their own limits makes you realize that there is no cookie cutter version of what success truly is.  Some days are better than others and pushing my body to do what it allows me to do on a given run gives me happiness.

There are a lot of faster runners out there and if I measured how I compared to them in any race I would probably be rather disappointed.  But running allows me to watch myself improve and with each race I can see my own personal progress.  Better yet, everyone on the side of the road is still cheering me on even after that super speedy girl whizzed past minutes ago.  Putting life and your runs into perspective is the only way you will ever find happiness.

I am not going to touch on all of the signs.  But there are a few that I think are definitely worth mentioning:

Signs 3-5: Running will undoubtedly make you raise your standards.  Very few other sports will so quickly push you to your limits.  Unless you are just coasting along you will have no choice but to raise your standards.  As you continue to progress and see what a strong and healthy runner you have become it is natural to continue raising the bar.  And although this article may be talking about letting go of people that weigh you down or make you unhappy, most of us that get into running quickly start trading in our cakes and cookies (for the most part) for healthy veggies, fruits and grains.  Our bodies crave this and before you know it, you find yourself standing in the mirror admiring those sexy, toned legs.

Sign 6: If you read my post yesterday you know that I landed right in a big old setback of a run last week.  But I pushed through, dusted myself off, ate a delicious roast beef sandwich and came back the next day for more.  Of course I am a glutton for punishment, but I also have learned that just because one day ends with a horrible run doesn’t mean that the next day can’t leave you feeling like a million dollars.  Same goes for each mile of a run.  Some miles just plain suck but others may surprise you.  We runners learn to roll with the punches because you never know just what that next mile will hand you.

Signs 7-8:  No good runner could do this alone.  We all have great support systems and all those miles we log running together or riding to the next race or massaging achy muscles helps to create incredible relationships.  Besides, no one else wants to hear you celebrate your next lost toe nail.  And while we do complain, as we get stronger the complaining takes on more of a wicked sense of humor.  “Man my legs are so sore today.  I can’t believe I forgot to pack my Body Glide.”

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Sign 9:  I am such a competitive person.   I used to cry in elementary school when I would miss a question on a simple quiz.  My husband will tell you we no longer can play checkers together because of this competitive nature.  But somehow I can be running a race and busting my butt to set a new PR and when I see another woman come flying past me my jaw drops with awe.  I might even cheer her on as she passes.  Not many other sports will have you cheering on the same people you are competing against.  Maybe we really are crazy!

Sign 10:  Yeah this one goes without saying.  Run nerd, right here.

Signs 11-12:  I look forward to just about every run.  Enough said.  And believe it or not most of my goals for myself and running have come true and then some.  I never had any idea that I would accomplish some of the things I have and for some reason this sport just has me continuing to set the bar higher or moving it over to another plan all the time.

Signs 16-17: If you saw some of the outfits I have run in you would definitely know that I no longer care what people think.  Add the runny noses, chafing legs, and salt drying all over my running shorts and you simply have to get over what others think and get over yourself.  And then when you do, you realize that everyone else is just as wrapped up in their own little worlds that they just don’t give a darn!  And if by looking on the bright side you are talking about my new shoes, I definitely have that covered.  But seriously, running has helped me to become an incredibly positive person.  It gives me something to look forward to, shows me a sense of confidence and accomplishment, and makes me feel like I can do anything.

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Signs 18-19:  There are definitely a few things I can’t change.  I will never be Kara Goucher and darn it I will probably never have her legs.  But I can keep pushing myself and working on my speed and endurance and who knows where I might end up?  I won’t be next to Kara at the finish but I can trace her steps there!

Sign 20:  This is a sure thing.  Running makes me happy.  Maybe it is the endorphins or that I have gone slightly mad running dozens of miles alone with my own thoughts.  But I can confidently say I am a much happier person because of running.

As A Marathon Runner’s Wife said, “There’s so much in life to be thankful for – and we have little victories that are worth celebrating”

Couldn’t have said it better.

Sometimes It Comes Back Around

Yesterday morning I was catching up on my blog reading and I came across a great post from one of my favorite bloggers Michael Anderson  at Running Around The Bend titled “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”  He wrote about finding a lot of negativity and people judging others on the web and especially in blogs.

After I finished my morning coffee I set off on a super hilly 10 mile run with my husband.  We chatted about this and I explained a bit more in depth how this blog post came to be in the first place.  We had a really thoughtful discussion about this until the run got too hard and we finished the last few miles just grunting, but the post was spinning in my head the entire time.

To be honest, I was a little bit surprised only because I feel like I have filled my blog world with some incredibly positive people.  I don’t really follow blogs that tend to whine or take negative spins.  On the other hand I am super lucky to have really thoughtful and kind followers who are always leaving positive feedback and encouraging me along my journey.
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However, I do completely agree that there is a general attitude of negativity these days and people often get caught up in the belief that their way is the correct and only way.  Whether it is how you approach your fitness or diet routine or especially the way many view religion or politics there tends to be a “my way or the highway” attitude.  People can’t fathom why others don’t agree with their personal beliefs and tend to assume that those on the other side are simply just “wrong.”

After our run we went to a local diner just down the road from our lake house.  This place makes everything from scratch and is known for their various baked breads.  When we walked in it was packed full of locals on their lunch hour and lake house families who were up visiting for the week.

Shirley’s only has about 10 booths, a few seats at the counter, and one big round table in the back.  When we came in we got the last booth and two gentlemen were eating at the table in the back.  After we ordered I noticed a family walk in; a husband and wife, three children and a grandfather.  They were informed that there would be a wait unless they wanted to eat at the counter.  The parents kindly said not to worry they would just wait.

The gentlemen in the back table were just starting to eat their meal.  But I overheard one man remark to the other that they should move so the family could sit down.  Without a word, they picked up their meals, moved them over to the counter and told the waitress to give the table to the family.

If that was how the meal ended I would have been thrilled but the greatness keeps going.

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After the family sat down my husband leaned in an told me that the dad got up and very discreetly pulled the waitress over.  He told her to please put the men’s checks on his bill.

I started to tear up at this really thoughtful act of kindness.  I was speechless.  And the greatness kept on going….

I remarked to my husband that it was a wonderful lesson for his kids to learn, that you can do something nice for another person as an act of gratitude.  But my husband said that the kids didn’t know because he did it so quietly.  The dad did it so discreetly, nobody noticed except my kindhearted husband.

When the men went to pay their bill the waitress informed them that it had been taken care of.  They were shocked and waited around to thank the family.  He stopped and said, “Thank you for taking care of our meal.  You really didn’t need to do that.”  The father responded and said, “It was our pleasure, you didn’t need to move.  Sometimes it comes back around.”

That quote has me tearing up again.  Sometimes it does come back around.  For every annoying thing that has come your way, there is that one amazing thing a friend or a stranger has done, even a simple act like waiting to open a door for you.  So instead of sitting around waiting to see something great happen, do something great for someone else.  Sometimes it comes back around.

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