Lessons I Learned from Running

I’m five weeks and five days away from running my first half marathon, and started “training” a couple months ago — basically, I’m doing 2–3 runs a week, with one long run and 1–2 short runs. A professional runner might recoil a bit at this training schedule because it doesn’t include other essential physical activities like weight-training, but thankfully, I’m not trying to become a professional runner. I’m just trying to not walk during any part the 13.1 miles. Slow-jogging the whole thing would be a pretty solid win.

Anyway, even with this non-overachieving training schedule, I’ve learned firsthand some lessons that parallel between running and life. There could be a lot to share, but these three seem to strike a chord in me the most during a time when I feel like life feels very dull while everyone else is thriving:

  1. Go even when you don’t feel like it —even though this race is something I willingly signed up and paid for, sometimes I don’t feel like running…but alas, it’s during these exact times I need to go and do go. I’ll always think it’s too windy, too cold, or too sunny (fair skin is a big deal in Asian culture and I’m far enough from it already), or that I’m too tired or too hungry. Deep down, I know these are poor reasons to not run because SF has the most temperate weather ever and I live right above a Whole Foods so food is always accessible at least before 10pm. If I let myself give in to this not-wanting-to business, I’ll probably let go of myself during the race also. Similarly, in my day-to-day, hanging out with my close friends will always seem more appealing than going to cell group in the moment or calling my mom back can wait a few days because she’ll understand. I realize, though, that if I want to commit to something, whether it be fighting to understand what Christ-like fellowship looks like in a local church or living intentionally, aware of the fact that my parents won’t be alive forever, I need to do so and prioritize these things even when I don’t feel like it.
  2. It’s better with friends — I’ve ran with friends only twice in the past few months (in silence because me holding a conversation while focusing on my breathing and pace is eye-roll worthy), and both times my average pace was a lot faster. We didn’t talk at all, but just having a friend run next to me did some voodoo magic that I can’t really explain. This makes me think of fellowship and community, and how we are not meant to live in isolation, but we were made to serve, love, encourage, and pray for with one another. Slowly but surely, you will move steps closer to what you want to be. If you surround yourself with people who are confident, thoughtful, full of integrity, and Christ-like, then you will unknowingly move in the same direction together and faster.
  3. Don’t feel rushed — Today, I ran 9 miles for the first time in my life. Whenever I add another mile to my extra long runs (for me, runs > 5 miles) I repeatedly tell myself that I can do it if I run at a pace that is fit for me. I don’t try to make it my fastest run (again, just trying to not walk during the 13.1 miles over here) and don’t let that lady running faster next to me holding a dog leash on one hand and pushing a baby stroller in another phase me. After my 9 miles, I felt pretty good. I was slow, but I finished. At 25 years old, having lived in the Bay Area for 7 years, been single for forever, and worked at the same company since graduating college, feeling trapped as if this is the way things are going to be in the foreseeable future becomes very real, especially when I see friends going to grad school, moving cities, getting engaged, etc. Every passing day I don’t make a radical change feels like another day I’m going to need to catch up on later. If I take a step back though, this isn’t the case at all. I feel rushed because I’m entertaining some confirmation bias where I’m choosing to see only what I want to see. In reality, I’m in an okay place.

With all that said, I don’t think these three lessons are all-encompassing, lifelong mottos I will live by for forever — sometimes not doing something because I don’t feel like it, doing things in solitude, or putting some light stress and pressure on myself to feel uncomfortable, will be the right option. This just happens to be what I’m learning during this particular time in my life, and I trust that God’s timing in what he teaches me is planned and meaningful. In the meantime, my task is to strive to abide in Him so I can better discern these moments and having a quiet heart knowing I am being well prepared for something better than what I can fathom.

Seriously, though. I hope I’m completely floored by where I find myself in 5–10 years just because it’s so flippin’ amazing.