What Running Has (Unexpectedly) Taught Me

I always tell people that I started running when I was in a dark place of my life.  I had just broken up with a boyfriend who hadn't been very kind to me in the last months leading to our breakup.  Many of my friends in Los Angeles has trickled away and moved to other cities.  And I was less active than I used to be.  But in the midst of indulging in a few vices, I decided that I was done with dealing with grief in unhealthy ways.  One day I just decided I didn't want to live my life the way I was living, so I changed.  And I became a runner, just like that.  Since then (almost 2 years ago now - time flies!), I've ran 10 half marathons, 2 full marathons and a handful of 10Ks and 5Ks.  My Nike Running app to date has logged over 2,200 miles.  But more than just medals and miles, running made me learn a lot about myself.  Here are just a few of the important and unexpected lessons that running has taught me about life:

1.  How To Be Alone With My Own Thoughts
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Running is such a singular sport.  I don't care how many run clubs you join, or how many friends you make on your Saturday long run.  When you start running it's just you and your thoughts.  Did you know that a recent study in the journal Science showed that people would rather give themselves electric shocks than be alone with their thoughts for just 15 minutes?  When I started running the last thing I wanted was to be or feel alone.  But it taught me that sometimes being alone with my thoughts helps me see the bigger picture in a tough situation.  And no matter how long you run away from your problems (or thoughts) it always catches up to you in some way.  Running has taught me how to be comfortable with being alone.

2.  Timing is everything.
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You can train and train.  But sometimes it's just not your time for a PR, or in my case, my first marathon.  Sometimes life throws you unexpected roadblocks or changes, and you have to accept that sometimes it's just not your time.  It can be so easy to get stuck on the closed door in front of you, an injury, or a huge change in your life.  But there are always other ways to train -- yoga, Pilates, barre, cycling.  I've done it all while I was injured.  In the same way, there are other things in life you can enjoy instead of focusing on something that you cannot change.  Everything in life has a time, and you can't always control it.

3.  You meet the right people when you start doing the things you love.
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After college, it's hard to make new friends because you're not thrown into social circles the way you used to be.  For a long time I had a hard time making friends in LA.  Running taught me that like attracts like.  We run together, give each other career advice, and go on adventures together.  Running may have brought us together, but our like-minded life values have kept us together.  And I've learned that the more that I throw my heart into the things I love, the more things I love come into my life which leads me to...

4.  What you give comes back to you.
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If you do the long runs, when it comes time to run a marathon you're ready for it -- even at that mile 20 wall!  If you put in the speed work, your runs become overall faster.  Whether it's the long run that you chose over Saturday morning mimosas, the time that you choose to spend quality time with family and friends to build relationships, studying instead of staying out late, or the volunteer work you chose to do instead of watching TV all day: What you give, comes back to you.  I guess I always knew it, but running definitely made me believe it.

And it doesn't have to be running that can teach you all of these things.  It's anything that you sweat for, anything you put your heart into.  More than ever I believe that being passionate about something positive not only changes my life, but changes the lives of everyone who's life meets with mine. ♥

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