Running seems easy enough. It’s as easy as putting one foot in front of the other, as long as you can, as fast as you can. What if I said you’re wrong? What if I told you there is a lot more to running than that? Due to the lack of physical complexity in the motions, running opens up your mind to a plethora of thoughts. Each run is right there screaming words of wisdom at you, you just need to listen. If you listen, running can teach you things about life and yourself like no one else can. The challenges, gifts and accomplishments we find in running parallel our everyday lives. As Oprah Winfrey said “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
A few things running has taught me are:
If you work hard enough, you can achieve things you deemed impossible
I hated running, I saw it as a form of punishment during cricket sessions I saw it as punishment and I literally ran away from it. The thought of someone wanting to run 21.1km baffled me and I was so sure I would vaporize somewhere after 3kms. But with a lot of encouragement from other runners, a deep driven desire to attempt it I achieved it, and I couldn’t have been happier. It taught me that I can achieve a lot of things, I just have to work at it. “To achieve things I haven’t before, I shall have to do things I haven’t done before.”
Rome cannot be built in a day
Results don’t happen overnight. Looking back at where I started running, and how much I can run now, I know I have come a long way. But this didn’t happen suddenly, it was a slow progression. Training for an event like a half marathon teaches you that it’s a slow progression, you begin to trust that the painful work you put in will eventually show the results. You make tiny improvements every day and one day you look back to see the miles you’ve covered.
Ask for help (and give back to others who need it)
I used to believe that asking for help meant admitting weakness. But I couldn’t have been further off the mark. Asking for help needs a will to succeed, the courage to hear that you may be absolutely wrong, and an open mind. The comradery among the running community is absolutely amazing. And I would not have become a runner without the support of other more experienced runners. It teaches you that there will always be people better than you, but you should ask them for help so you can improve and learn from them.
People better than you, should motivate you, not intimidate you.
I love to seek out people who are just a little faster than me. It helps push me to catch up to them. Emulating someone who has reached higher levels helps keep me excited about improving, and to remember to never be content with a stagnant life. 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?
Keep moving forward
Life isn’t easy. But you cannot reach the finish line unless you start. If you focus on putting one foot in front of the other, you will eventually reach the finish line. There is something magical about deliberately moving forward that reminds you the mind is a very powerful thing, if you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things. Put faith in the journey and the destination shall come. Even the Bhagavad-Gita teaches us this lesson “Karm karta ja, phal ki na soch.”
Running parallels life in so many ways. That’s probably one of the reasons why those who start running regularly once, do it for life. With each new mile I cover, I feel like I uncover just that little bit more about myself. I would like to sign off with an excerpt from “The Song of the Ungirt Runners” by Charles Hamilton Sorley
We know not whom we trust
Nor whitherward we fare,
But we run because we must
Through the great wide air.