Tuesday, May 27, 2014

what i have learnt from running

Good afternoon beautiful people!
May is always a special month for me because it's my runniversary!
Yep, the whole month simply because I didn't record the date of my first "real" run. It was a fun run organised in my hometown on a Sunday morning: my mum had started running a few months before and she invited me to go along. I was 13, slightly chubby and played volleyball with a passion. Running didn't appeal to me at all.
Little I knew that those 7km were the first ones of many many others (according to my flatmate's calculation, I should be around the 9000km mark, so roughly 200 marathons. Yikes!)
Now, 7 years, 7 half marathons, a marathon and a dozen of shorter races later, I look at running as my greatest achievement. Because- to put it in my sister's words- I went from having the coordination of a cat in a cast ( absolutely none) to completing a marathon and running a sub-100 minute half. I became stronger and fitter and dropped almost 2 jeans sizes.

More importantly, through running I learnt to live.
I learnt that if you have the courage and the patience to hold on the pain goes away, that the feeling of accomplishment of the finish line, of that last rep on the track is the most empowering.

I learnt that when things get rough, you have to put one foot after the other without looking at your pace, just as in life you get up in the morning and go to bed at night.
I learnt that there is good in the world and you can have faith in humanity: if any of you has ever struggled in a race, you know what I am talking about.

I learnt that life isn't fair, that hard work is important but talent makes things easier. And that sometimes circumstances aren't right either: races will be called off, your bowels will manifest themselves at the most inappropriate moments, you will get injured, PB will be missed and there is always going to be someone faster than you. Unless you are Usain Bolt. Or Wilson Kiprotich.
I learnt humility the hard way. First by being overtaken by many who were older and less fit than me. Like the guy in the picture:

Then, I learnt the hard price of underestimating a race and setting off too fast, which again taught me to be humble when I step in the start area.
I learnt to be ambitious, to want more, to strive for a PB, for constant improvement.

first HM vs my last HM

I learnt that the human spirit is truly indomitable. I saw many runners defeated by injury or a bad race. And I saw them bounce back for another training session, another race. I saw them grit their teeth and soldier on, mile after mile, in spite of the pain. 

my mum running NYC marathon in 2009 just a week after having suine flu
I learnt about true friendship, the one which takes time to grow but is so strong to bring very different people together because it stems from that sense of camaraderie brought on by hard work and sweat.

I learnt to set my priorities and recognise my limits. I was the slowest at my track team at home, possibly because at weekend I would wander off on long runs with my mum instead than sticking to a fast 50 minutes run. Did it matter? A bit, but I loved running with my mum and do the occasional road race, so I stuck with it. The important thing for me was giving my best every time. And with it, slowly came the ability not to care about other people's crap.
I learnt to be tough because at the beginning mental endurance was the only skill which could get me around the track and finish a workout. Plus, that feeling of empowerment at the end of each training session slowly started to rub off on everyday life activities.

Through running I began to appreciate nature in every form and especially the weather. When I started running I hated training in the rain and would pick any excuse to stay home. After being sidelined for 5 months due to injury, I swore I would never complain for the weather again.

Quantifying the good running has brought me is hard, if not impossible, due to the sheer volume of such change.
It gave me a better relationship with my parents 

fantastic friends, who always believed in me even though they thought I was nuts, who always lifted me up.

more fantastic friends

the feeling of being at home on every part of the globe, I just need my running shoes.

Most importantly, it gave me the self- confidence I lacked: I was smart and hardworking but never fully believed in my ability. Once I started training on the track, my perspective started to shift: surely if I could run 10x400 m reps, then maybe I could nail that test better, maybe I could learn the Greek verbs in a smarter way and not be terrified by our teacher. Or try harder to understand philosophy. Or reach out and fulfill my dream-half a fantasy- to study in England. 

Yes, through running I earned a better life.

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