I enjoy getting outside and running, it keeps me in good shape physically and it is my favorite thinking time. As I was on my long run this week, a 10 miler, I thought about several life lessons related to my running. Here are my thoughts:
- When your running a long hill, keep your focus on the road right in front of you and only take quick glances up the hill. If I focus on how much further I need to go I get discouraged. In life when you are facing a tough uphill period focus on the things in front of you and take it one day at a time. Occasionally glance up and take a look at the big picture to keep a proper perspective.
- Get periodic updates on how you are doing. I use an app on my iPhone called MapMyRun. Every 5 minutes it tells me the time, how far I have gone and what my pace per mile is. In life you need periodic updates on how you are doing. Maybe it’s going to the doctor for a checkup, maybe it’s going to a counselor or a pastor for wise counsel. Or is could be meeting with someone to gauge how things are going financially. It may be checking in with your spouse on how they think your doing or asking some trusted friends that will be honest with you.
- The faster you run the more you need to focus. When I start to run faster I tend to use bad form and this can cause injury and take more energy. When I pick up the pace I need to focus on using good form and make sure I pay attention to my body. In life when you are running at a fast pace, focus becomes so important. Without disciplined focus you will tend to spin your wheels and not get things done. You start spinning plates instead of clearing the plates and putting them away.
- When you are tired and want to stop, start talking to God. When I am getting tired or want to slow down or stop I start repeating words like Strong, Powerful, Courageous, Smooth. I also will pray and ask God for strength, endurance and to help me finish the run. In life the way in which you think will determine how you finish the race. Talking to God and asking for his help is vital to overall health and perspective. God is powerful and can transform anyone, but you must plug into him in order to get that power.
- If you feel an unusual pain it’s best to slow down or stop. When I start to feel a pain in my foot or leg, I will slow down. In the past I have kept pushing and gotten injured. In life when you experience a new kind of pain, it is best to slow down and pay attention. Sometimes it can be a physical pain that warns you there is something not right. It might be an emotional pain that causes you to respond in an unhealthy way. The pain is telling you to pay attention, that something is not as it should be, and to make some changes or get some help.
- On a long run don’t start too fast. I have a tendency to start my long runs at a much faster pace than I should. What happens is I end up going much slower at the end of my run and my overall pace suffers. In life when you run too fast early, you can run out of gas and not even finish the race. Understanding the right pace of life is an important ability. It is good to push yourself, but you also need to know your limits. There are times in life that you need to sprint and there are times you need to jog. There are also times to rest and recover.
- When you are on the downhill or flat stretch enjoy the view around you. I live in the country and love to look at the countryside while I am running. I only do that when I am running a long flat stretch or on a downhill. That is the time to keep my head up and see the big picture. In life there are times when you can really enjoy the things around you and can see the big picture of where you are heading in life. These are important times because it helps you to know if your on the right path or not. This is the time to make adjustments if needed, not when your pushing up a tough hill.
In life, like on a run there are many things going on inside your head and your body. There is also a lot going on around you. The key is to pay attention, know your limitations and keep pushing yourself while keeping God at the center. The more you push yourself in a healthy way, the better you will get. Now get out there and do something.