Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Things Learned Through (and Loved) About Running

It's not Monday, but I'm (Mandi) posting anyways because when I posted yesterday I realized the last post before mine was Thursday's...clearly Ronnie needs a little back up.

I have been re-inspired to run the last month. We have been doing our HIIT classes the last 3 months and I have put running on the back burner, but while on vacation I went on a couple long runs by the ocean and fell back in love (does anyone else have a love-hate relationship with running?) I also did that half marathon last week, which drove me to want to step up my running game. I decided this week to increase my miles and enjoy some time with my feet on the pavement. Here are the top ten things I have learned through running and that keep me in love:

10. Practice makes perfect. Very few people can lace up their shoes for the first time and go for a long run. It takes time. While I love things that I'm good at, I also love a challenge and knowing that I can continually get better at something.

9. My body will adapt. I once had a soccer coach tell me that, "your body is unlike any other machine, it will adapt to the stresses you put on it." This has been one of the most monumental statements in my life. I repeat it to myself during long runs. I encourage myself with it when I'm in our class and it feels like I can't do another clean and press or another burpee. I tell it to myself when I don't feel like working out. Because I know that if I push myself I get better, but that the opposite is also true. If I sit around, my body will adapt in the wrong direction. Running has showed me this without fail, every time I step up my running, I can run farther and farther.

8. My brain is more powerful than my body. There are times when my body screams to stop. To walk. To take a shortcut home. But somehow my mind can overpower what my body is telling me. I have to admit, the positive self talk in my head is something I rarely share with people, as it may be some of the most embarrassing mental dialogue of all time. But it is incredible what your body can do when your mind tells it that it will be done. I may or may not think to myself "legs engage" before a big hill. There's a chance I have "raced" the mailman down a stretch of road while trash talking him in my head, "I'm on foot and keeping up...what's up now?!" (Please erase that from your brain). I repeat over and over, "you're not in pain, you're just tired. Being tired isn't a good enough excuse to stop," probably 35 times on any given run. It works every time. #Brainsareawesome.

7. I will never be the best - and that's ok. I know I will never be the best runner on planet earth. For a type-A who's a perfectionist, not being the best at something makes me uneasy. I am driven by success. I like to be the best (yes, I said it...and I know I'm not alone, so no snickers, peanut gallery). But running is one thing I know I will never be the best at. I will never win a race. I will never be the fastest or be able to run the farthest. There's something healthy about being forced to sit in the middle of the pack - and learn to feel comfortable with being average.

6. I am intense. I am certain my husband, brother, and parents all just laughed reading that. This is no secret. I'm pretty sure even my dog knows this about me. But running has taught me just how intense I can be. I can push. I can feel like I'm about to faint and still put one foot in front of the other. In fact, Ronnie refuses to run with me, in part because of my intensity...but also in part because...

5. I can be happy even if I'm not comfortable. No one likes that person during a tough workout. I am that person. I have learned in a big way through running that my feelings don't need to be dictated by how I feel. If I'm uncomfortable, it's healthy to be joyful in the place you currently are. Running had taught me to be comfortable with discomfort. To look around at beautiful surroundings while my body aches. To thank Jesus for two legs that burn. I have tried to let this bleed into other aspects of life. In fact, I know for certain it is learning this lesson through running that allowed me to joke throughout my unmedicated birthing process - the reason I was giggling and smiling between pushes. Through running, discomfort never became an excuse for a bad attitude.

4. People bond over shared interests. Ground-breaking? No. But seriously, how cool is it that two runners passing on the street almost always smile or wave at each other.

3. The best thinking is done alone. Sometimes the world is noisy. We live in a world of constant communication and influence from others. Running allows time alone with me and my thoughts. And my best thinking can be done when I'm alone with my thoughts.

2. I'm competitive with myself. I am a competitor. I like a good competition. I really love competition with myself. I like to better myself. I like to show the me of yesterday what's up. Running has showed me this through and through. It kills me if my run today was slower or shorter than yesterday. I've learned I really can refine myself more through competition with myself verses with others. I can't always be better than others, but I can always be better than I was yesterday.

1. My body is a gift. I have been given all the tools I need to be active. I have been given a machine that will get up and move. We all have our insecurities about our bodies, but when it comes down to it, if I'm capable of getting out and running, I know I need to thank God for what he has blessed me with.