“20 Things That I’ve Learned”

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I came across a weblog from Amy Smith called Insight.  Amy is a 3:10 marathoner and this post is about things she’s thought about in her years of running.  Check out her blog at http://insightweblog.wordpress.com/ .

Here’s Amy’s “20 Things That I’ve Learned About Running”:

1. The better shape you’re in, the more enjoyable it feels. Running is painful for just about everyone. If you haven’t ran in a while, it’s going to be an uphill battle to reach the point where it feels good. But it’s definitely worth the climb–so hang in there.

2. Baby steps: Unfortunately, running is not a sport where drastic improvements occur overnight, over weeks, or even over years. Improvement requires consistency, patience, and diligence. And it usually takes time and a good day before you see a measurable outcome.

3. Run with people that are humble and encouraging. If it weren’t for fond first running experiences, I don’t think I’d be running today. Even though I was the slowest runner in high school, I received amazing support and endless kind words from my teammates. This encouragement helped me believe in myself and built my confidence in ways I cannot describe. Running with people that are supportive, encouraging, and humble will change your life.

4. Do speed workouts in places where you know you can run fast! Have you ever tried to do a fast run on some obnoxious, mountainous obstacle course? Okay, okay there is a time and place for pushing yourself up hills and mountains. But if you want to do a fast tempo or speed session, do it where you know you can get your legs moving! This will boost your confidence and your horse power!

5. Strength training is always important: This is a weak spot for me. But let’s be real: strength training will prevent injury, make you a better runner, and keep you toned.

6. Don’t do it for anyone else, but do tell people what you do. This might seem contradictory, but it’s not. In a nutshell, don’t run for anyone other than yourself (see #7). BUT,do  tell other people about your running goals and adventures because it’s a great way to keep you accountable.

7. Only do things you want to do. Sometimes runners do races because it’s a tradition, because everyone else is doing it, or other roundabout reasons. If you don’t want to run a marathon this year, don’t do it. Running becomes grey if you’re always trying to talk yourself into it rather than naturally wanting to do it.

8. Abs are made in the kitchen: Someone told me this one time and it stuck with me. It’s a painfully honest testament to the importance of a good diet.

9. Mix up your surroundings: There’s nothing more exciting than a new escapade. Venture out on new trails and territories to re-kindle the spice of running.

10. Jog for pure enjoyment: There are days where a “joy jog” is entirely appropriate. All you need to do is toss your watch aside and simply trot along.

11. Better to suffer in training than suffer in a race: Whenever I’m struggling in a workout, I always think “better now than later”. This helps me keep a clear perspective and finish strong.

12. Running changes. There might be times in your life when running is king, and other times when it’s a mere afterthought. That’s okay. LIFE is always changing, so it’s only natural that your running life will change too. Don’t measure yourself today with the yardstick of yesterday.

13. Do speed with a group: The synergy of a group will amplify your workout. Not only will you be motivated to run faster, you’ll enjoy the shared experience with others.

14. Listen to songs that deeply resonate with you. Upload songs on your playlist that tug at your soul-strings. Why? Because when you’re running, you experience music in an entirely fresh and profound way. Studies even show that music has a positive effect on the brain during exercise. My most crisp running moments involve great music.

15. Take a day off. There is absolutely no need to run 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Nuff’ said.

16. Don’t be arrogant. It drives me nuts when people act like they’re “better” than everyone else because they can move one leg in front of the other at a fast rate. First off, running is only ONE of many, many talents to be mastered. Secondly, running is a gift not an entitlement. In the snap of a finger, illness, injury, or life can kick you off the high horse.

17. Splurge on nice running gear. This might seem silly, but if quality gear improves your running experience it’s entirely worth the investment. After all, there’s nothing more important than your health.

18. Do your best, knowing your best varies.  You might nail a workout one day, and then feel completely out of shape a few days later. That’s normal, so don’t worry. Running is a series of ups and downs. Enjoy the ride.

19. Know what makes you feel good. What makes you feel energetic and peppy? Keep mental and/or physical notes of what makes you feel the best. Consider: amount of sleep, foods, people, shoes, gear, vitamins, water, ect.

20. Always end your run on a positive note. As humans, we tend to remember the first and last parts of an experience. If you always end your run on a positive note, you’ll naturally see running in a rewarding, positive light. Thus, you’ll be more likely to keep running!