January 11, 2021

What I Have Learned as a Runner

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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I’ve always been an active guy. I grew up playing baseball, soccer (for a very brief time), and football. In elementary school, I took home a couple shiny ribbons for track and field. When I graduated high school and started attending my university, RMC, these avenues of athleticism I once knew were no longer available to me. So, I was left with two choices: running or the gym.

Naturally, like most people would, I chose the gym. I mean, why would I voluntarily subject myself to the torture that is cardio? I spent my whole life playing sports that required repeated short bouts of effort. Going for a 5k was definitely not in the cards for me.

However, I later met some friends at RMC (Royal Military College) who served as my inspiration to start running. With this new challenge ahead of me, I learned some interesting things.

Firstly, it is very hard to breathe out of your nose while moving quickly, despite the fact that everyone else is doing it. And, once you inevitably start mouth breathing, everyone you’re running with (who will be very confidently nose breathing) will quickly realize just how out of shape you are.

Seriously though; there are plenty of life lessons to come from taking on a new challenge, such as running, and I’d like to share some with all of you. It’s because of these lessons that I was able to run my first marathon in December of 2019.

Lessons Learned in Running

  1. Be patient. When I first started running, I wanted to be the fastest guy in my group. Of course, I was the slowest. I tried to keep up, yet only saw myself improving when I took the time to actually focus on what I needed to do to become a better runner and allowed my body and mind to appreciate the time required to improve at such a task.
  2. Do your research. If I didn’t actually look up recovery exercises, understood training plans, or even looked up the right shoes for myself, I wouldn’t still be running. My body would’ve quit out on me by this point. Learning and researching are equally as important as actually getting out and trying. Preparation is half the battle.
  3. Never stop. There were plenty of times when I first started, and even some times today, that I have wanted to quit running. Truthfully, sometimes I really hate it. However, I know I hate it, and I know that doing what I hate is what is going to make me better. So, I have never stopped. And I only keep getting better.
  4. Have a goal. The days when I set out on a run thinking about a 10k race in the future are the days that I feel like I’m striving towards something tangible. When I have nothing in my sights, I can often feel as if I am putting all of my effort towards nothing. Your goal doesn’t have to be an organized event such as a race, maybe it’s a weight goal, maybe it’s a personal record on a specific distance. Maybe it’s just to get to the top of the hill without stopping! Whatever it is, use that goal to fuel you through the process of getting there.
  5. Trust your body and listen to its concerns. When your body screams out begging for some time off, you should probably listen. When I listen to my body, I always see progress.
  6. Be proud of the smaller accomplishments. When I first started, I was happy when I finished a run and didn’t immediately flop into the grass or snow beside me. Today, my small accomplishments I’m happy with are less noticeable. Usually, I’m happy when I get to the top of a familiar hill and I still have a low heart rate. Appreciating the small accomplishments will lead to the bigger ones as you progress.
  7. Remember that it won’t always go your way. You can’t expect life to be sunshine and rainbows all the time, and when you’re trying to do something difficult this becomes especially true. I’ve had plenty of injuries ranging from blisters, to debilitating lower back injuries, to even being hospitalized. All of these set me back in my running progress, they knocked me off the horse. Yes, it sucks having to climb back on time and time again, but it feels great once you’re on there rather than staying in the mud.

These 7 lessons came from my experiences as a runner, but I am confident that if you thought about it, you could find these same lessons in other things you’ve tried on a whim. Probably, there’s more for me to learn from a new experience that I will have in the future, that maybe you’ve already lived. Whatever the case, I’m glad I learned something from my struggle to become a runner.

With a hell of a lot of dedication and time (I started seriously running about 2 years ago) I’ve been able to accomplish some pretty awesome things. I’ve ran an organized quarter marathon, an unorganized marathon, finished an “Iron Warrior” in the top 10% of competitors, had the top time in a 40 kilometre commemorative D-Day ruck march challenge, and accomplished many more exciting and difficult tasks. I attribute much of my personal success to the lessons I described above, which I learned way back when completing a 5k was my goal. I’m always learning from my sport, and maybe that’s why my love/hate relationship with running actually has a smidgen of love in it, and why I keep pushing for more. I wouldn’t trade any of the struggles I’ve face for anything; they’ve made me who I am today and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Nicholas M.

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  1. Colin says:

    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

Hi, I'm Stacey.
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My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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