It doesn't matter if you're a brand new runner or if you've been athletic you're entire life, we all struggle from time to time getting motivated or feeling totally and utterly hopeless. When getting out the door feels impossible, I close my eyes and think back to a few short years ago when I couldn't run a 1/4 of a mile without feeling like I was going to die. Struggling to put one foot in front of the other? Here are 16 things I have learned on my road to becoming a runner.
1. What you need to be a runner.
Look, running sucks. There! I said it! When you're just getting started, it hurts! It's boring! You spend the entire time hating yourself because running is so difficult (which I realize doesn't make any sense). It sounds cliche but it's a tried and true mantra, just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Set tiny weekly goals and celebrate every single success. (Did you put your shoes on? BOOM. Celebrate that, it's a success.)
2. Giving up.
This one is personal for me because I spent well over a decade giving up. Giving up isn't the easier option, anyone who has done it knows that it's infinitely harder to give up than it is to just push through. But there will come a time when the stakes will be high enough and you won't give up. That's when people get bit by that infamous running bug. It's the moment you realize that you're strong and unstoppable. It's empowering. Fight to get to that moment.
3. It's not about how badly you want it.
I learned this first hand when I was struggling to lose the 75+ pounds I gained after my brother passed away; you can want something more than anyone else in the world but if you're not willing to do the work, to push yourself, or to fail in a huge way, it won't happen. Sometimes you stumble (or crash and burn) before take even the tiniest step forward. Failing promotes growth. Mistakes make you stronger. Don't be afraid to set a goal and fall short. Just show up and try.
4. Be present.
Life is hard. Life can be really, really, really unfair and impossibly difficult. The only way you will survive when shit hits the fan is if you can enjoy the journey.
5. We all look stupid. Embrace it.
Stop worrying about people judging you for how you look when you struggle through your run. I get it! I ran at night when I first started running because I was self conscious. I didn't run with another human being for an entire year for the exact same reason. Now, I regret feeling so consumed with how stupid I looked because I still run like a fool. Just embrace the fact that we all look ridiculous when we run!
6. It's not you, it's your shoes.
May or may not be accurate but it feels right to blame your shoes. When in doubt, blame your shoes.
7. Running never gets easier, you just get stronger.
You really do learn to enjoy being uncomfortable. It hurts so good is a real thing. I know, it's bizarre.
8. Don't hate the shitty run, hate the shit.
There will be shitty runs. There will be times when you actually step in dog poop. There are less shitty runs ahead. Don't sweat the shit.
9. So you're not naturally athletic...It's not an excuse.
Some of us have to work a lot harder than others but becoming a runner isn't impossible.
10. Run from your problems.
Running wasn't exactly the "solution" to my problems but it put me on a path to a stronger, confident and happier me. When I thought I was at a dead end, running showed me how to forge my own terrifying path and to simply believe in myself enough to take risks. Not only do I do my best thinking when I'm running but running helps me cope when I feel defeated or hopeless.
11. There's no such thing as a right time to get started.
I could write the book on excuses why you shouldn't get started. I used to be the Queen of, "I'll start tomorrow." Stop saying you'll start tomorrow, focus only on right now and today.
12. Strong not skinny.
Don't workout to look a certain way, workout to feel a certain way, STRONG! After I ran my first marathon, I realized that trying to fit into a certain pants size was bullshit. How could that be more fulfilling than running a marathon? Step off of the scale and run towards an actual goal.
There is nothing more rewarding than removing guilt from the food you eat. Running did that for me and it changed my life.
14. Screw the haters.
There are going to be people who don't think you can do it and who feel obligated to stop you from trying. It's not your job to convince them to believe in you. The only person who needs to believe in you is you. (Then use that as fuel to prove them wrong. You can do anything you put your mind to! F*ck those people!)
15. Have hope.
When every step feels impossible, have hope. When you don't think you can do it, have hope. Whatever you do, don't give up hope because time is going to fly by and you'll be making impossible possible in the blink of an eye and that will be an incredibly surreal moment. Trust me.
16. Just one step is all it takes.
Every step is a step forward. It doesn't matter if you feel like you're going backwards, in circles or in place, every single step is a step towards a stronger you.
There's no one way to become a runner. Sometimes it takes weeks and for some people, it takes years. I challenge you to set a goal and fight to make it happen. The only way you can fail is if you fail to try. I know you can do it.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.
*Photos captured by the incredible Turner Munch.