12 Life Lessons Learned from a Runner

(This article isn’t just for runners, it’s for everyone since it’s about life lessons too. There’ll be links strewn across the article for medical and technical explanations and links to other inspirational readings.)

Back in teens and early 20’s, a sweaty run may induce cringe. Who would have wanted a tiring routine, an early wake-up call and fashion killing sports get up? Not me, I guess, but after turning 24, I changed opinions.

Running is simple. It’s easy. It’s like walking, only pacing is faster. In this simplicity, though can be found some of life’s profound lessons. It isn’t everyday that you will focus on something, but it can be possible through running. I may not be a regular runner, but I have experienced its deeper meaning. Some lessons in this article are an input from a marathoner I know.

What are these things? First, I need you to promise to pick up those shoes, lace them up and prepare for a life and fitness journey. It should be experienced firsthand.

1. Your body can be pushed and is capable of more than you can imagine.

This thought is empowering enough. Aside from the fact that running is a very healthy option, it can also be a way to test the limits.

Finishing a marathon is a perfect way to gauge your limits. It can start from simple runs, but bit by bit it can become a life or a profession. Genetics may play a role in athleticism, but training and discipline may play a bigger role.

Plus, by being a runner, you get your body to answer to healthy calls. Like eating far healthier meals. And another benefit of being a runner? You can run it off without giving a heck when your car breaks down.

2. Your greatest enemy isn’t the best marathoner in the run rather, it’s yourself.

In self empowerment talks, it is always pointed out that you don’t compete against other people. Rather, you do it for yourself. Outrunning a competitor can be great feeling, but outrunning your previous record is elating. Running instead of eating unhealthy foods, of spending the day in bed or the thought of going easy is also one achievement far worthy of recognition.

Doing running and marathon though isn’t as easy as a pie. It may cause bruises, pain and even other physical remunerations but it strengthens the will within you.

3. You are what you eat.

Your food choices now may centre on how to keep yourself healthy and overcome a day of office work and how to still keep eating the right food to fuel up your morning runs and your monthly marathons.

Running starts to define you as it entails discipline. As a fitness conscious person now, you will start to feel the real difference between healthy foods and junk foods. Healthy foods will fuel you up while junk foods will slow you down and make you lose immunity.

As your running now has influenced your eating, your eating habits will now influence the way you look at life, impacting your moods, your mental clarity, confidence, relationships and even your work.

4. A little mettle along the way is needed to hurdle the run, and life.

Who hurdles life without pain? Even the richest of the world doesn’t go in life as easy as we thought. A little grit and an indomitable spirit can get you through the run and even through life. And to do anything worthwhile, with purpose and with success, grit is needed.

Running teaches you how to feel the excruciating pain, recognize its existence, feel it some more then move on and bank on it. In running, you need to feel the pain and the exhaustion before your muscles will start to build and go strong. Once your muscle goes tougher, you can add up some grit for far stronger obstacles.

Hard work and pain put many successful people on top. And everything will always be an uphill battle, luck will only constitute of a small percent of life, choices, discipline, focus and work are your far better bet. Remember, even though the battle is uphill, you’ll get the best view there is once you reach the top.

Once on top they say your only way is down, so down it is. Go down and find more uphill to climb, run more battles and marathons. The world is endless.

5. Nemesis who is better than you are there to motivate not to intimidate.

Okay, let’s admit that people who are better may sometimes cause some intimidation, some discouragement and setbacks, but once you realize it, these people may also push you to try harder.

In life, stagnation is doom. Once you find something to keep you excited and to push you to higher levels, keep looking up to this something. When you surpassed it, look for another to motivate you. IN running, always go with those who are faster than you, learn from them.

6. Life is a mental test, pass it.

Running is a mental thing over exhaustion, lots of mental and physical motivation is needed. When your mind tells you are weak then you’ll go weak, if your mind tells you are stronger ad can hurdle more, then you can go farther. But, who controls the mind? You control it yourself.

Running is powered inside your head, so your life is with a bit of a heart of course. Love life, love running, but be strong-willed enough to finish every finish line.

7. Silver linings will be visible, even in chaotic times.

In a gruelling marathon or a chilly morning run, you may find the peace within you. That’s the silver lining. Amidst the chill, the dewy morning, the peaceful surroundings, the commune with nature, are the positive things that will keep you moving.

In life, these little things may lend you inner peace. They’re magic at their own little right.

8. You have to lose in order to win.

You can’t start running without losing at the start. Professional athletes need to be amateur first. There’s no exact potion that will make you strong and fast and hurdle the track at the first stop.

Athletes have started as trainees, endured pain and has lose and failed a thousand times before getting to where they are. In life you need to stumble, get demoted, make a mistake, hurt a special person, make wrong decisions before you learn it. And you can’t win in everything. That would mean invincibility which isn’t possible.

9. Accepting that every day is different.

Although everything should be a challenge, there should be days wherein you may feel the physical difference of everything. Some days a 6 mile run is an easy job, in some days; it can be an excruciating journey. You can accept the fact that you cannot make it today, but tomorrows another day.

Fact is, there are some points in life that everything seems harder. Although you’ve put everything in front, everything still seems hard. Don’t feel like a loser. Put down your resolve, accept it like a true sportsman do but return the next morning with another set of resolve. Now that’s the spirit.

10. The last in the race is better than those who haven’t tried the run.

Life ends when you give up trying. So why give up now? Those who started the race, although they know the 99% are better than them, are still the laudable people in terms of persistence compared to those who never tried.

With life, those who give up without trying, without using their last thousand options, have lost. With try and tries, there will be no impossible (you can read a story by a runner with Hypotonia in this link, proof that disability isn’t a hindrance and you can’t exhaust a thousand tries before achieving something).

11. Celebrate milestones.

You can’t just work and run your whole life, right? Reward yourself with a few things. May it be material or not. Go travel somewhere far after you achieved some marathon wins in a year. Or get a drink with your friends when a newbie runner has finished a five mile run without complain.

Life is worthy of celebrating. Take time to breathe and take time to rest.

12. Surround yourself with like minded, positive people.

Although not all runners are the same, they may share the same goals and same outlook. Every morning for them is a new goal, a new way to succeed. With this positive people surrounding you, everything will be easy and positive as well.

In life, getting and weeding out negative people and those that are hindering you in negative way should stay out of your circle. Sucking up their negativities will cloud your life. Instead, run with people who sees an obstacle as a challenge and not a reason to stop, life runners who sees a goal as an achievement and not just a trophy prize, a life runner who knows limits but never wallows in it.

The HuffingtonPost in Sara Klein’s post has outlined her own lessons learned from running, you may read them at this link.


So you see, running isn’t just a sport, a fitness choice, or a morning due. It’s life within life itself. It teaches you lessons and helps you get through bad hair days. Now, have you had lessons learned from running or any sports? Share them with us!

featured image via Nathan Rupert


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