6 Miles & 6 Ways Running Has Helped Me Through Life

I’ve loved running ever since I can remember. For most people this seems like an oxymoron. “How can love and running go together in one sentence,” they ask jokingly.

Over the years, I’ve realized that running is more than just a hobby, it’s the place I go to find quiet and oddly enough, rest. I know- strange!

When my heart thumps loudly and rhythmically and the sweat drips down my back, I think deeply about life. It’s here, running along the open road, where I see so much symbolism. Running is a great teacher for the race of life.

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On Saturday I ran the Run a Muk 10k (6.1 miles) in Mukilteo, my first race since Zoe was born. Rather than give you a mile by mile recap of how it went, I wanted to share six ways running has helped me through life. {Then maybe you will you understand exactly why I enjoy running so much!}

1. Our Thoughts are Fuel.

Steady and strong. Steady and strong. This is what I kept repeating to myself the last few kilometers of the 10k race this weekend. It kept me energized and upbeat when my legs were starting to feel tired. I surprised myself and finished with a personal record!

In running I can see directly how my thoughts impact my actions.

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And it’s no different in life. I read the other day that about 90% of the thoughts we think are garbage. The things we say to ourselves, most of the time, are defeating and discouraging. They paralyze us with fear and make us feel worthless and incapable

What if we put only uplifting thoughts on repeat in our mind? I have a feeling we would conquer the hills in our life and finish the day with a genuine smile of satisfaction.

2. Pace Yourself.

The best way to run a race is negative splits. Starting slow and increasing your speed so you can finish strong.

On Saturday, I knew I needed to pace myself, especially with all the hills in the beginning. I started out at a tempo I could hold and gradually increased my speed throughout the race.

This theory also translates directly into our life. So often, we start out with enormous amounts of enthusiasm and energy, and then challenges come our way and we don’t have any strength left to overcome them.

But we need to give ourselves permission to slow down in life, to take small steps especially with our dreams and goals, to realize that it’s not about starting out with a huge bang but finishing beautifully!

3. Don’t Compare Yourself.

In the past I suffered greatly because I compared myself to others. I eventually got so thin I couldn’t even walk up stairs without feeling like I was going to faint. It took some time but eventually I realized that comparison was eating me alive, literally.

In fact, if I’m not careful it’s still a temptation. I know I’m not alone on this ladies. With social media there’s never a moment where we aren’t comparing our lives, looks, and accomplishments with someone else.

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But now, when I run I don’t compare myself- my body shape, my training, or my times with others. I do my own thing. I run, not so I can be the best, I run simply because I enjoy it. I entered this race on Saturday with my biggest goal being to have fun!

What if we lived the same way?

Not to be the best, the fastest, the prettiest, the smartest, but what if we lived rich lives full of joy and contentment with who we are, instead of constantly comparing ourselves with others?

4. We Were Created for Community.

I can’t tell you the number of times people smiled at me or cheered me on with encouraging words at Saturday’s race.

Every runner will tell you what happens inside of them when they are fed encouragement. It feels like an instant shot of energy! It’s amazing! Saturday’s race was a reminder just how powerful it is when we hold each other up with life-giving words- “You can do this!”, “You’re almost there!”, “You’re doing awesome!”

We were not created to run alone nor were we created to do life alone.

Surrounding ourselves with people who speak truth and believe in us when we feel like we could give up is the only way to run the race of life well.

 5. Empower Others.

Saturday was a dream come true for me. My little boy ran his first race! Proud Mama Moment! Don’t laugh, I know I’m a nerdy runner, but I’ve always pictured the day when my kids would lace up their running shoes and I would go cheer them on. Well, at nearly 2 years old, my son, in his Walmart, red running shoes ran 200 meters with his mommy cheering him on every step of the way.

Although setting a personal record felt good, this felt even better…to hold my little boy’s hand and encourage him all the way to the finish line!

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Yes, this is what I was meant to do. Not just with my kids but with every person in my life.

Setting goals for our lives and achieving our dreams is a worthy task, but it pales in comparison to serving, loving, and empowering others to become all that they are called to be.

Life and running are at their sweetest when we can encourage and inspire someone else along the way.

6. Persevere.

 One of my biggest goals in a race is simply not to give up. To keep going, no matter who passes me, no matter how I feel, no matter how big the hill.

Persevering is not easy, especially when your body and feelings are saying something else. But persevering is the secret to life.

If we just keep going, even if our steps are tiny and our speed is slow, we will see victory in our lives. I walked away from Saturday remembering yet again that I need to persevere in the hard days of mothering, in my marriage, with my dreams, and in the messy seasons of life because there is always a great reward when we don’t give up.

Okay, you’re turn…what do you learn about life through running{or whatever you do to stay fit}?