My Greatest Life Lessons From 5 Years of Running

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | running tips

Feb 02

I looked at the calendar the other day and realized that it’s been 5 years.  Five years ago, I started running, and the rest is history.

It has been such an incredible journey and throughout these past 5 years, I have learned so many life lessons from running.  I never saw that coming!

So I thought in honor of my 5 year running anniversary, I would share those lessons with you!

What I've learned after 5 years of running! #runchat #sweatpink #fitfluential Click To Tweet

It's my 5 year running anniversary! And after 5 years, running has taught me so much about life. Find out the greatest lessons I've learned and more tips at runwithnoregrets.com

Greatest Life Lessons from Running for 5 Years

broad street run 2011

After Broad Street Run 2011

It was in January 2011 when I first hopped on the treadmill in Planet Fitness to begin training for the Broad Street Run.  (P.S. – the lottery for the largest 10-mile race in the country is now open!)

Some friends encouraged me to give it a try, so I decided to go for it!  I used a half-marathon training plan from active.com and followed it to a tee.  I went from running on the treadmill at 5 mph (12-minute pace) to eventually becoming comfortable with a 10-minute pace by the time the race came in May.

After that race, I fell in love with running, formed a running club at work, and now I can say that I’ve run:

  • 6 half marathons,
  • mud runs,
  • 3 10-mile races,  
  • 4 10K’s, and
  • 11 5K’s

So much has been learned through that process and I continue to learn every time I step out on the pavement.  Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned over 5 years.

Your Mental Strength Can Get You Through The Toughest Challenges

If you’re new to running, the biggest surprise may not be how hard it is physically, but how tough it can be mentally.

It can be extremely boring to run on a treadmill for any period of time, but you start to learn how to get through it and it gets easier over time.

When you’re a runner, there’s no such thing as “bad” weather.  The wind, heat, humidity, snow, and rain become your dearest friends!  My very first run with my running club at work was during a torrential downpour, go figure!

The amazing thing that I’ve learned from running is that I’ve developed incredible mental strength.  There are so many times when running just plain SUCKS and it’s the last thing that you want to do.  But you still go through it anyway, sometimes pushing through some discomfort to get it done.  And when you’re done, hallelujah!

Remember the miserable experience that I had at the Annapolis Classic Half Marathon?  The funny thing is that while I felt pretty awful about  my mental collapse, now I can look back and realize that I did a great job with all things considered.

Chasing a Goal is Thrilling and Frustrating

Can I say how fun it is to really push yourself, to see how far and how fast you can go?

It’s an amazing feeling when you realize that you’re getting faster and stronger over time.

Working hard to reach your goals is one of my favorite things about running, and there’s always room to improve. There’s a reason why clubs like the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics exist.  Running is addictive, but in a good way!

But of course there are also the many setbacks of running.  Ever since my string of injuries, my pace has suffered.  I can’t seem to get back to my 10-minute comfort zone even though I’ve been injury-free for over 2 years.

But I’m not giving up!   This year I’ll be training for my very first full marathon, and I bet there will be a lot of thrills and even some tears!  I’m looking forward to working hard, keeping up with my strength training, and enjoying every step of the way.

Being Healthy Is a Blessing

I do NOT miss these days...

I do NOT miss these days…

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance during your running journey that you will face an injury.  For me, it was runner’s knee, a metatarsal stress fracture, and plantar fasciitis.

When you can’t run and you have to give up on all the races you planned for, it hurts, even though it is temporary.  I learned how much I took running for granted when it was no longer an option.

Running has done amazing things for my health and I’m extremely grateful for it.  I’m much more physically active and I eat healthier food.  No more months-long droughts from the gym and no more frozen meals and spaghetti doused in parmesan cheese every night!

It’s a blessing to be healthy and I’m committed to taking the right steps to stay that way.  If I didn’t get into running, who knows where I’d be today?  Fast metabolism doesn’t last forever!

Being Active Can Inspire Others

I never started running to be an inspiration to other people.  I just wanted to challenge myself in a new way, and I ended up falling in love in the process and talking about it with anyone who’d care to listen.

But over the years, I’ve been able to see that so many people respect and admire what I do.  Even though they think that I “run marathons” (not yet!), they see that I spend a lot of time running and training and that there’s a lot of hard work involved.

It always touches me when family, friends, and acquaintances tell me that they read my blog and that they’ve been inspired to start running.  I feel honored that I can share running tips with others based on my experiences and research as if I’m a trusted source of running knowledge!

My point in saying all of this is that it’s so important to know that people are watching what you do.  Don’t minimize your running achievements because people are paying attention.

You may also like:  Cold Weather Running Tips

Even if people tend to “tease” you about your running, they most likely really admire what you do.

You Are Your Biggest Competition

One of the biggest things that I’ve learned on this running journey is that I need to focus on how I can be the best version of myself.

It’s not about beating other people, running the most races, or having the nicest abs.

It is absolutely pointless to try to compare yourself to others, not just in running, but in any situation.  I’ve really struggled with this concept for most of my life, but through running, I’ve been able to work on it and be more self-aware, aka “Janelle, you’re doing it again…”

Have you ever known runners, especially bloggers, who have only run for a short period of time but can run 20-minute 5K’s, 3:XX marathons, and make it all look so darn easy?

You never really know the whole story.  Maybe they have more time than most to get those training runs in.  Maybe they’re just naturally gifted.  And maybe they’re not.

You can’t worry about other people, it’s a fruitless effort.  When it comes to running, all that matters is that you work your hardest to improve.  You can always strive to be better – maybe work on your running form, discover a mantra that works for you, make sure you hit those paces when you’re training.

It’s enough work trying to be your best self – there’s no point adding others to the equation!

It's enough work trying to be your best self - there's no point adding others to the equation! Click To Tweet

Patience Can Be An Endless Test

Patience, patience, patience…there’s never enough, is there?

When you’re a runner, you learn a lot about how to be patient.  It’s a necessary evil.

You’re constantly trying to improve, but it takes time!  You want to get those PR’s and you want to win those age-group medals, but sometimes it doesn’t happen when you want it and how you want it.

No matter if your goals are to run without a walk break, get a sub-30-minute 5K, or to Boston Qualify, you have to respect the process.  The more consistent you are as a runner, the better your chances are of knocking out those goals!

But it still sucks, especially when you work so hard.  I am regularly frustrated about still being an 11-minute runner.  But I’m going to try to take my own advice.

Your Body Tells You Everything You Need to Know

Never ignore what your body is telling you.  Listen to it!

Ever since my issues with injuries, I’ve really learned to pay attention to the signals my body gives me.  I would rather err on the side of caution than push myself and risk another major setback.

As you take your body out on the trail, pavement, or treadmill for a run, you learn what your body can handle and when it’s telling you to take it easy!

Sometimes my knees hurt during a run.  Sometimes my ankles or my feet are sore.  Should I do more hip strengthening work?  Remove my custom insoles from my new shoes?  Readjust how my shoelaces are tied?  Improve my posture/running form?  You learn how to diagnose yourself.

When I ran 7 miles over the weekend, it was about 20 degrees and my breathing was ragged.  I knew I needed to slow down so that I could get through my run.

It’s so important overall to listen to your body, and I believe that going through some running injuries gave me a greater appreciation for that simple principle.

Working With a Professional Is Often Worth the Price

Love my running coach!!

Love my running coach!!

Working with Coach Kristy has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my running journey.

I used to follow generic training plans, and I’d follow them religiously.  But I never knew if I was actually on the right plan for me.

I didn’t do speed work, strides, or hill training until I started working with a professional.  Why?  Because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing!

I never changed my pace with my runs, all I did was focus on the miles.  Hmm…maybe that’s why I got injured so many times?

If you have the financial means, I highly recommend working with a running coach.  It is a completely different experience working with someone who can cater a training plan to your specific needs and can help you work your training plan around your schedule, plus provide guidance at any time.

I’m grateful to say that since working with Kristy, I have stayed injury-free and I have been able to really grow as a runner.  To be able to say that means that my investment has been worth every penny!

If you’re expert enough to create your own training plans, more power to you!  I  just know that personally, I could never do it.  I like to outsource services to a trusted professional whenever I can, and that’s in everyday life as well!

I am so grateful that I am still healthy enough to be able to run after 5 years.  It has been an amazing experience and has truly changed my life.  My biggest goal is to be able to run for the rest of my life and continue on this journey.  I really don’t know what I’d do without it!

What lessons have you learned in your running journey?  When did you first start running?

I’m sharing this post as part of Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia, Erika, and Patty and Fitness Health and Happiness with Jill Conyers!

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