Advertising
Advertising

7 Life Lessons Learned From Being A Runner

7 Life Lessons Learned From Being A Runner

Running seems so simple. You just put one foot in front of the other over and over again really fast. Who would have ever guessed there was more to it? Yet, in its elementary lack of complexity, you stumble into the profound with each swish of your shorts. If you listen, running can tell you about yourself in a way that few things can. The more you embrace each mile, the more you understand that the wisdom found in the quiet, dew-filled morning runs is unique and spectacular, all wrapped up in one heart-pounding combination.

So how can running teach you about life? Read on. Then lace up your shoes and see what you can learn!

1. Synergy isn’t just a buzz word; it’s how you get better!

Synergy simply means that 1 +1 = 3. That is, you are so much more powerful working with others than alone. If you have been a runner long, you know that we form a global community. I can pass another runner on the road, or find out someone is a runner, and we instantly share a connection that warrants getting up at the crack of dawn to meet a total stranger and go pound the pavement together. Because, if you’re a runner, then you instantly get a huge part of me—no explanation necessary. What better way to start a friendship?

Runners support each other. They push each other. They unite over running together. You find you become so much faster when you are surrounded by the sound of other feet slapping the sidewalk right next to you. With a good support group at your heels, the miles fly by, the mountains become molehills, and you suddenly discover that you are faster than you ever thought possible.

2. Your body is capable of more than you ever dreamed.

When I first started running in high school track, I never dreamed I would run farther than the few miles needed to train for the mile race in the track event. I thought a 5K race was a huge deal! Now, I’ve completed a marathon and I am training for my first Ironman triathlon; which has you running a marathon after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles to warm up first.

Advertising

I can honestly say that finishing my marathon made me realize that endurance running wasn’t something only obtainable by those born to run. Regardless of genetics, any healthy person can become a distance runner as long as they put in the proper training time. Your body can do truly impressive feats when given the right training and nutrition.

Now, when I drive distances, I think, “Hey, if my car broke down right now, I could run that!” It’s actually an empowering concept!

3. Your competitor isn’t the one beside you; it’s the one inside you!

Sure, it’s nice to outrun other runners. I like winning my age group just as much as the next girl. But, the real war is inside. It’s that voice that tells you it’s too dark, cold, and windy to get out of your unbelievably soft, warm bed and go for an early morning run. It’s the very sound, logical whisper that tells you it’s better to slip on your slippers then your running shoes after work. After all, you’ve worked hard all day. You deserve a break. If you do manage to overpower that siren of sleepiness and make it out the door, it’s that whimper nagging your mind the entire run that you’re going to get heat stroke if you don’t turn around right now and go back and get a nice, cold lemonade.

If you want to become a serious runner, you have to learn to silence that voice. I can promise you, running a marathon is not easy. It hurts. And, if you don’t learn to defeat the enemy in your head, your feet will never take you very far.

After running, I see that enemy inside everywhere. When I want to eat healthier, she’s tempting me with the junk food. When I want to be productive, she’s arguing how a movie would be a nice way to relax.

Advertising

Every time I want to move against the current of easy, my inner enemy wants me to stop struggling and just let life happen to me. But, even a dead fish can swim with the tide. I want to live! And that means defeating my mental monster and giving up what’s easy to discover that you can push past the pain to the impossible. There’s a war inside, but for now, I’m winning!

4. You are what you eat!

When I’m seriously training, I think about every meal as it relates to my run. Are my food choices helping me or hindering me? You see, some things I eat will reduce soreness, strengthen my body in muscle repair, and help keep me lean so I can cover distance more easily. Other foods will slow me down, make me feel sick when I’m running, cause me to pack on pounds, or loose my immunity to illness. While I don’t remember every amazing thing that I’ve tasted, I do remember what it feels like to lose my fitness, endurance, and health. It is directly related to my daily eating habits.

When you run, you can easily see a direct link between what goes in your mouth and what energy pulses through your feet. Once you see how much better you can perform with clean eating, you start to see a connection with how food affects the rest of your life too. I now understand how my food choices impact my mental clarity, performance, confidence, mood, and relationships. I never would have seen the causation so clearly without running.

5. A little grit is required in life for anything worthwhile.

If you want to get better at running, you have to stress your body. In order for your muscles to get stronger, they first must be slightly damaged through exertion. Then, your body builds the muscle fibers up stronger to handle the increased workload. The damaged muscles are what cause you to feel sore after a good workout.

While you should be responsible and manage how much pressure you put on your body to avoid injury, you can’t get better without adding in some stress.

Advertising

This also translates to other areas of life. People who are successful are usually so because they didn’t shy away from hard work and a little pain. They stepped outside their comfort zone. They put in the extra elbow grease that most won’t exert to reap the rewards many will never achieve.

While gaining fitness in running and life is always an uphill battle (especially if you’re doing hill repeats), the view from the top is spectacular! You learn you really can live a life of no limits, and it’s worth every painful moment needed to reach your full potential.

6. People who are better than you should motivate you, not intimidate you.

When I’m training, I love to seek out people who are just a little faster than me. It helps push me to catch up to them. I also love watching elite athletes race, because I mentally envision how they move when I’m running and strive to replicate that. Emulating someone who has reached higher levels helps keep me excited about improving, and to remember to never be content with a stagnant life.

Your life is always fluid as well. You can either be moving towards good or bad in your relationships, health, fitness, career, and mentality with every choice. For me, running is like the canary in the coal mine. I can see results very quickly for my decisions. In other areas of life, it takes more time for your choices to produce change. But, if I want to become better, I need to surround myself with people who know how to get me there. After all, who better to show the way than those who have already been there before me?

7. You begin to see potential in everyone.

Fitness is attainable to everyone, no matter what your waist size or body fat percentage. When I see an unfit person sweating and slogging through a walk / run workout on the track, I know if they keep at it in a few months, they will be transformed into a different person. A fit, fast, confident runner is being chiseled out from their exhausted attempt to move with each trembling step.

Advertising

How do I know this? Because I’ve completed that metamorphosis a few times myself. I’ve gone from an overweight, depressed couch potato to a sleek, fit marathoner and triathlete. The great thing about running is that you don’t have to be incredibly talented, just determined.

And, honestly, isn’t that how we should view everyone? As a potential success story in progress? While someone may not live up to the stereotype currently, it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be successful when they put some actionable work behind their dreams.

Running mirrors life in so many philosophical ways. I think that’s why I love it so much. As I dig deeper into each mile, I learn so much more about myself. With each pair of running shoes I wear out, I gain a deeper perspective on life’s journey.

Plus, running gives me a valid excuse to collect copious amounts of psychedelic shoes! And, really, what girl could resist that?

More by this author

Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health Why Am I so Unhappy? 50 Little Things That Secretly Make You Unhappy 10 Amazing Benefits of Swimming You Never Knew Which Dehydrator Is The Best For You? 33 High-Protein Smoothie Recipes Everyone Should Try

Trending in Communication

1 Why an Attitude of Gratitude Is Essential (And How to Develop It) 2 Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It 3 What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It) 4 How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life 5 What Will Happen When You Surround Yourself With Positive People?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

Advertising

1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

Advertising

If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

Advertising

6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

Advertising

In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

Read Next