It’s been more than a decade since I took the first steps of my running journey. I look back on those early years with a huge sense of compassion for the young woman who literally had no idea what she was in for.
I wish I had been comfortable enough to ask for help and advice, but admitting I needed help wasn’t something I did back then. When I reflect back on those early weeks and months, I wish that someone had told me that I wasn’t alone, that the feelings and emotions I was going through were normal. Here are the 10 of the things I wish someone had told me.
1. Running is not just one foot in front of the other.
Yes, in its simplest form, running truly is one foot in front of the other. That simplified statement, however, can lead you to believe that it’s easy, just like walking … only faster. The truth is running is sometimes hard. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because it doesn’t feel as easy as just placing one foot in front of the other. You’ll eventually appreciate the idea that running is sometimes hard, especially because it’s the hard parts that bring great results.
2. It’s going to seem like it is easier for others.
If you are starting from square one with fitness, that’s not easy—for anyone. However, you’re going to encounter others who are new to running and it’s going to appear as if it’s easier for them. It might be because they are former or current athletes who are taking up running as a new sport, or it might just be your perception. Either way, you don’t know their story and shouldn’t worry about whether you are worse off or better off then them anyways. Comparison is not the name of the game.
3. It’s OK to start running with the only goal in mind of losing weight.
Seasoned runners are going to tell you that running should be about more than just losing weight, that the greatest joy will come when you decide to stop running for that reason. While that may be true on many levels for a lot of runners, it’s also OK to run with weight loss as a your only goal. This is your story, not theirs. Whatever reason you choose to start running is a good reason to be running. Just pursue it with passion and be consistent.
READ MORE: Running for Weight Loss
4. It will get easier, but it will never be easy.
There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel when it comes to running. In many ways it will get easier. It doesn’t actually ever get easy though, so be prepared for this. Running will require you to make a daily choice between running and not running. That choice will be easy some days and hard other days, just like running.
5. You are a runner the moment you decide to be one.
There is no criteria for being a runner other than to be a person who runs. You run, so when you want to call yourself a runner and consider yourself to be one, you will be one. Don’t let insecurity hold you back from being who you want to be.
READ MORE: 14 Signs You Are Already A Runner
6. Running is a great way to make new friends.
It seems as if it gets harder to make friends the older you get. You might not feel like you fit in at first, but that’s OK, at some point you will. There are millions of runners, so if a club or group doesn’t feel right, move on to the next one—you will find your tribe.
7. You are not alone.
There isn’t a thought or feeling you are having now as it relates to running that other runners out there haven’t experienced. It is part of the beauty of running, every runner understands the highs and the lows and the sometimes simultaneous feelings that make you want to scream “I want to quit!” and “This is the greatest thing ever!”
8. Running is new.
Think back to when you were a child, there was nothing in your life that you were good at on the first try. It took practice to get to where you wanted to be. It took failing and falling. Even though you are an adult, and this is something new, give yourself the gift of patience. You are going to fail a bit and you are going to fall, too. Keep picking you yourself up, and keep on running.
9. Lighten up.
News flash: running is fun! Yes it’s hard, and yes it hurts, and yes some days you will want to quit, but it’s also supposed to be enjoyable and fun. If you aren’t finding the fun in your run, start thinking outside the box of ways you could increase your enjoyment level. This will help you continue on your running journey.
10. Running is a journey.
This is your life, and you were drawn to running for a reason. Weight loss or improving your fitness level may have been what got you started, but the reasons for continuing will likely become more than that at some point. There are going to be ups and downs—that’s all part of the process. Smiling will make things easier on the down days, and those down days will give you a profound appreciation for the good days. Running at its core is just like life—not easy—but worth it every step of the way.