At this time one year ago, I wrote a post about the fact that I had, at the time, recently surpassed the 1,000 mile mark of running mileage in the 11 months since October 2010. Now, a full 22 months from that October date when I had begun tracking mileage and on the cusp of the Chicago Marathon, I have passed the 2,500 mile marker. Here are a few things I have learned about running and myself in that time. Some of these may be repeats from the last list, but that is because they are no less true than they were the first time around.
1. Running is a gift. If you are lucky enough to have running in your life, don’t waste it.
2. There are no shortcuts in running. It’s you, a distance, and the clock. That’s it. There is no one else to rely on when running. You have to put the miles in if you want to see results. You have to work.
3. Chafing is not fun. Not at all. If you are running more than 9 miles or so, don’t be afraid to use Vaseline. For the men out there, I have two words: nip guards. Best. Invention. Ever.
4. You are capable of much more than you think at the moment. With hard work and time, you will be able to do things you once thought impossible.
5. A little healthy competition is fine, but constantly comparing your speed, distances, miles per month, or other metrics with other runners will never lead to anything good. You have to be comfortable with who you are as a runner.
6. If you live in a place with tough weather conditions and you train outside year round, you will learn the definition of commitment. People will call you crazy, but when you cross that finish line after all those months of work, you will know that it was all worth it.
7. Running in races is fun, but it is not the end all be all. Just running is enough. Someone is no less a runner because they have not run in x number of races.
8. Be friendly to your fellow runners. Offer encouragement when you see someone struggling or working hard. You will need this encouragement yourself someday.
9. Non-runners will constantly be concerned with your health, especially your knees. People who are out of shape and overweight will also tell you that running is bad for you. They will also say things like, “I only run if something is chasing me” or “I don’t even drive that far.” Ignore all of them.
10. It’s okay to use running as a means to an end, but know that true mastery (which I do not claim to have) comes only with understating that running is an end in itself.