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6 things running taught me about life

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, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and got curious about it at that time 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

I put on my old trainers the next day, and I joined the first session. In the beginning, I was concerned as it was my first attempt, and I 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, “Let’s try it again”! When I returned 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 last 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. Sometimes, we need a push

I used to believe that running was a lonely sport. However, my mind changed when I tried it, mainly because I had people to push and encourage me to do my best. I often said that it could be impossible for me to achieve 5 km, but my coach and all the group members made it possible and simple, 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, which made it more fun! Life looks like running; there are times you need someone to push you, and that’s ok!

4. We are strong enough to achieve our goal

For almost seven 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 when my heart rate was increasing, and I felt that I couldn’t breathe. It would be easy to give up at 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 goals!

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 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 to listen to your body! Every day is different. There are times you feel tired and others you feel refreshed, which 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 when I have breaks as I don’t have the mood for running, which doesn’t mean 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 better understand my needs and be less strict with myself!

Each running is unique and challenging, but I have learned many 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 doing other activities. 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,

Panagiota Gidopoulou

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