One year ago, I came across a post about a running group in my neighbourhood. Being a person who loves to watch Netflix, eat chips and chocolate and generally doesn’t like to exercise, I would usually ignore such a post. However, that time I decided to get out of my comfort zone and got curious about it as I had never tried to run long distances before in my life (maybe only during my childhood…). Indeed, I contacted the coach, and, after a brief chat, he convinced me to join them.
1. Be open to new challenges
The next day, I put on my old trainers, and I joined the first session. In the beginning, I was concerned as it was my first attempt, and wasn’t sure how it would go. Unexpectedly, I met wonderful people who made me feel comfortable from the first moment. If I remember correctly, I ran for a minute and felt exhausted! I couldn’t breathe, and my legs were really struggling! However, I insisted and had a good time with the group, so I said to myself, “Let’s try it again”! When I went back home, I felt euphoria, so, I immediately forgot the fatigue. It was then that running made me realise that it doesn’t hurt to be open to new challenges or the unknown!
2. Don’t compare yourself with others
The weeks passed, and I was making little progress in every session. I think I never gave up because instead of trying to compare myself with others, I tried to go faster than the previous time. I knew that I was on the first stage, and sometimes I was walking when I couldn’t run the extra mile, but this gave me the chance to discuss with experienced runners, who gave me lots of advice. If I had compared myself with others, I would give up and injure myself. Consequently, the second lesson was that if you want to improve your skills, don’t compare yourself with others!
3. Some times we just need a push
I used to believe that running is a lonely sport. However, my mind changed when I tried it, especially because I had people to push and encourage me to do my best. Many times, I caught myself saying that it could be impossible for me to achieve 5 km, but my coach and all the group members made it possible and simple, and so, I managed to get over it. As I said before, I wasn’t a fit person, and I never thought I could go running in extreme conditions or early in the morning. However, this also changed because I was a group member, and that made it more fun! Life looks like running; thereare times you need someone to push you, and that’s ok!
4. We are strong enough to achieve our goal
For almost 7 months my goal was to run 5km without a stop, and it seemed so hard. Then I was also trying to improve my speed, and there were times that my heart rate was increasing and I felt that I couldn’t breathe. It would be easy to give up in those times, but I was concentrating on my breaths, and I was going for the extra mile without a second thought. As a result, I achieved 10 km and improved my speed. It’s amazing how strong we are and what we can achieve if we concentrate on our goal!
5. It’s never late to start a new hobby
In general, I admire people who manage to keep a strict program for exercising during their entire life, and I had never imagined I could become this kind of person. I started running 1 or 2 times per week, then, time passed, and I was going 3 or 4 times. Sometimes, I have a few breaks, but it has now become a part of my routine. Even during my holidays, I find 30 minutes for running. It is never too late to start a new hobby or something that could be beneficial for your mental and physical health.
6. Listen to your body
The sixth and most important lesson running taught me is tolisten to your body!Every day is different, there are times you feel tired and others you feel refreshed, and that is acceptable. I have often gone running for 5 km and managed to achieve 10, and other times, I stopped after 2 km because my body was tired. There are also weeks that I have breaks as I don’t have the mood for running, which doesn’t mean though that I am weak. My body needs to rest, and I slow down when I feel this is what I have to do. This connection with my body made me understand better my needs and to be less strict with myself!
Each running is unique and challenging, but I have learnt a lot of things about myself. I am sure that if I can do it, you can do it too. It doesn’t have to be running; you can start walking, swimming or whatever other activity you prefer. Everyone has a different path, so find your own! It might be not easy until it becomes a habit. And don’t forget, you might discover a part of yourself that you never knew before!
Photo by Tiffany Mazza
*Special Thanks to Leeds Dock Running Club and coach John Fielding!
MSc Business Psychology
Qualified Life Coach,