Lessons From A Happy Runner: What You Need To Know To Succeed
By Kat Gal
I am a runner. I haven’t always been one. I was known as the girl who walked the gym mile, couldn’t catch a ball, avoided sports and exercise at all costs and even failed gym class once.
On ‘accident’ I started running 14 years ago with a competitive college cross country team. I improved quickly, became All-State, All-Conference and so on. But more importantly: I fell in love with running. I was always meant to be a runner, I just didn’t realize it until I was 19.
Along with cross country and track, I ran road races and soon moved on to half marathons and eventually full marathons.
In 2008, some months after my first marathon and quickly after registering for Boston, I developed hip problems.
I couldn’t run… at all! I was lost and devastated. Nobody had the answers. Nobody had the solutions.
For a few years, it was a good week when I could run at all. There were months at a time where I didn’t run a step or more than a couple of miles in pain. I never gave up on running though. Eventually, I found a chiropractor who recommended a completely new approach to shoe-wear.
Before that, I was told by every doctor, physical therapist, trainer, coach, runner and shoe store attendant that I needed special bulky shoes for my pronation, custom made orthotics and a heel lift as one of my legs is shorter. Still, they always pointed out that with such a weird body, I should not be running and that I should be happy to walk.
My new chiro, however, suggested that I forget about the heel lift, the orthotics and the bulky shoes and get a very basic neutral pair of shoes instead. It didn’t make sense, but I had nothing to lose.
I was pain-free within 2 weeks.
I have been pain-free for 4 years now and am still running happily. I am grateful and humble every day and will never take healthy running for granted.
Running is my life. Running is love. Most of all, running has given and taught me a lot that I am trying to apply to other areas of my life, including healing.
Here are the 25 things I’ve learned from running and how you can apply them to your transformation process and lifestyle change.
- The mind is a powerful thing: it can help your body to do anything. Healing is not only about nutrition, but also about how your mind, body and soul are connected. Meditation, positive thinking, releasing fear, forgiveness and gratitude are all necessary for holistic healing and well-being.
- Even when your body wants to quit, your mind can help you keep going. When you transition to a healthier lifestyle, perhaps go on a juice cleanse, your body will start detoxing. It will be uncomfortable, but don’t quit. If you put your mind into it, you can get through the initial difficulties. It is worth it, trust me.
- Pace yourself. Speed is not the key, endurance is. You don’t have to do it all at once. Cut out processed foods and increase whole foods gradually in your diet. It is better to go slow and create a sustainable change than to go for a cold-turkey sprint and quit after a week.
- Embrace the process. Enjoy the run. Enjoy the journey. Healing is not only about the end result. Enjoy learning new things, trying new foods, exploring new meditation techniques, joining a new exercise class and meeting amazing people along the way. Even when you have recovered from your ailments, don’t stop, life can always continue to get better.
- Sometimes you need a break. A day off, or sometimes even a week off is necessary. Embrace your breaks. Don’t push yourself. If your body calls for a day off, respect it and rest. If your best friend is having her wedding, it’s okay to have a cheat day and have a slice of cake.
Take the 90-10 approach rather than aiming for perfection. Eat organic whole foods 90% of the time, but give yourself a break if needed for the remaining 10%. Of course, there is nothing wrong with eating clean 100% of the time, just don’t stress over it too much.
- You cannot reach the finish line unless you start. No matter how sick, tired, or unhappy you are, you can make a change. You can completely transform you life through lifestyle changes. But you have to start somewhere! Your starting point is here and now. Go for it!
- Get out of your comfort zone. Making a lifestyle change is not comfortable. Your body and your mind will rebel. It will be new and difficult. But go for it: something amazing is waiting for you on the other side.
- No one can do the work for you. But they can support and motivate you along the way. No one can force green juice down your throat, but they can certainly support your process. You can hire a health coach to guide you, get your family and friends involved and read motivational articles on FitLife.
- No matter how hard you work, disappointments will happen. Learn from your lessons and keep going. One day, you may find yourself staring at the wrapper of a candy bar or the crumbs of a donut and questioning what happened – you were doing so well. Don’t beat yourself up. You are only human. Move on and continue where you left off.
- You are much stronger than you think you are. Remember this advice on the days when you doubt yourself. As said, there may be some tough days and bumps on the road, but believe me, you are strong. You can totally do this!
- Believe that you can do it. There is no amount of support and guidance that can replace the belief that you put in yourself. If it seems overwhelming, go step by step, day by day. Just believe that you can do it today.
- Do the best YOU can do without comparing yourself to others. Don’t compare your healing journey to others. You don’t know their full story. Even if they have the same illness that you do, their life circumstances, upbringing, genetic make-up and the rest of their story is different. There are no lives that are the same. There are no bodies that are the same. Walk your own journey at your own pace. Do the best you can do – that’s more than enough.
- The view at the top is worth the climb. The joy at the end of the workout or race is worth the pain endured along the way. Visualize the end result that you are aiming for. What’s your goal? What does it look like? How does it feel? Close your eyes. Visualize it. Feel it in your heart. On the harder days, remember this goal, this feeling and the smile that will be on your face when you reach it.
- If you really want and love something, you will find time for it. I get it, you are a busy person – it is difficult to fit all of this ‘health stuff’ into your day. But if you really want it, you can find time for it. Skip your TV show and go to the gym or pull out your journal instead. Don’t have time to juice? Mix some juice powder with water instead. No time to cook? Pick up some healthy options at your local co-op instead of going to a fast-food joint. You can figure it out!
- Listen to your body. Always. Don’t just read books and articles, but listen to your body’s wisdom. It will scream and shout if you are eating something that doesn’t work for you, but will thank you if you are eating healthy. Try an elimination diet to figure out your food allergies.
- Life happens. Sometimes you have to improvise. Let’s say you accidently left your healthy snacks at home, or your schedule has changed and you can’t go home in time to cook a nice meal. Improvise. Look for the next best thing. And don’t beat yourself up if the second or third best option is not perfect.
- Celebrate each step along the way. Celebrate each milestone. It is incredibly important to acknowledge your accomplishments. Each week, thank and congratulate yourself for all the good you have done for you body, mind and soul. Give yourself a little present.
It can be a nice bubble bath, an extra half an hour laying in bed, visiting a museum, or be as simple as getting yourself some flowers. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you celebrate yourself in some way. You are worth it.
- Do not take anything for granted. Enjoy the present. Be thankful for every moment. Let’s say you have been eating healthy for a while now. Your chronic pains have eased and your weight has dropped. You are feeling great. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t fall back to old habits. Keep up the great work and be thankful every single day for your health, happiness and life.
- Run your own race. Again, don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t try to follow someone else’s path exactly. Everyone has their own journey, run your own.
- You may not always see results right away, but hard work and belief pays off. Keep going. Keep believing. Depending on where you are at and what your current health status is, it may take a while to see real results. Afterall, your current state did not develop in one day either. It may take weeks, months, or even years. But you will get there. Don’t give up.
- Don’t be afraid to dream big. It’s good to have small goals, such as adding 1 extra piece of fruit or vegetable to your meal, adding an extra 10 minutes of exercise to your workout, or meditating for 5 minutes every day. However, it is also important to have a big goal in mind. Don’t limit yourself. Dream big, don’t be afraid to set your wildest dream as your goal. Anything is possible.
- Being one with nature feels amazing. Eating organic whole foods that come from the Earth lets you connect with nature. Going for a walk outside, breathing in the fresh air, walking barefoot, lying down in the grass, looking at the clouds, or hugging a tree all create a connection as well. Feel and develop your own oneness with nature.
- Be your own motivation. I’ve said it before: no amount of cheerleaders can make up for your own cheer. Put reminders, inspiring quotes and pictures around the house. Create a vision board. Tell yourself that you can do it and mean it, because you CAN do it. Believe in yourself.
- Life can be beautiful. In fact, life is beautiful. Enjoy your journey. Embrace every step forward, but also every step back. Everything is perfect in its own imperfect way. Give yourself a hug and don’t forget to smile.
- Healing IS possible if you truly believe in it. Never give up. I mean it. Never ever give up. Health, happiness and freedom is possible. Remember, we are in this together.
+ 1 BONUS: Do it from love. No explanation necessary. Love is the most important part. Love the planet, love others, love what you do and love yourself.
Kat Gál is a holistic health writer who helps health, wellness, and nutrition businesses to market their products and services through quality online content. She is also a freelance writing mentor teaching wanna-be-freelancers how to make a living writing at freelancewriterschool.com. Reach out if you are looking for amazing blog content at firstname.lastname@example.org or katgalwriter.com. Visit freelancewriterschool.com for freelance writing tips. Follow me on Instagram @freelancewriterschool and on Facebook at facebook.com/katgalwriter.
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