Over the past couple of years I've become quite a running enthusiast. Running is my escape, and how I cope with and relieve stress. Over time, I've discovered several unwritten rules to becoming a runner that not only apply to running, but also to life in general.
This post originally appeared on JustinSeeley.com.
Here are five big lessons I've learned from running that apply to life.
You Have to Walk Before You Can Run
When I first started out exercising, I could barely walk to the mailbox and back without getting winded, so running wasn't even an option at first. My journey began slowly by walking laps around the subdivision where I lived.
The same holds true for life and business as well. Just because you have a great idea doesn't mean that you can just jump right in and start doing it right away. There are far too many variables in play and you haven't done enough research (a.k.a. walking) to understand how to navigate them all safely. If you're starting a new business, changing careers, or just trying to get in shape like I was, you'll be much better off in the long run if you spend some time learning how to run before you actually try to do it.
You've Got to Have Patience
Patience has never been one of my redeeming virtues. In fact, I'm downright impatient about damn near everything. I want it, and I want it now. (That's probably a symptom of my being an only child, but that's a different topic for a different day.) My ultimate goal when I first started out was to run a half marathon (13.1 miles). My problem was the fact that I wanted to do it sooner rather than later, so I picked a date for a local half marathon event and signed up. My downfall was picking such an aggressive date, and not giving myself enough time to train. In doing so I wound up hurting myself during my training, almost costing me the ability to run at all.
A lot of people do this in life as well. They set lofty goals and put them on a far too aggressive timeline. Then when they don't reach those goals within their given time-frame, they either give up or consider themselves a failure. No matter what your goal, setting realistic expectations is key to ultimately achieving success. Are there people who drop a ton of weight in six months or guys who make millions off of their first business venture? Sure! But just as the fine print on most weight loss supplements reads: These results are not typical. Pace yourself, and be patient.
You Don't Have to Kill Yourself to See Results
I learned this one the hard way. I'm the kind of person that puts in 110% effort into whatever it is I'm doing. I've been told I have two speeds: stop and go. When I realised the damage I was doing to my body by training so hard for this half marathon, I quickly turned to the web for advice and guidance. I found an app called Hal Higdon's Beginner Half Marathon. This app allowed me to input my start date, enter my race date, and then based on that it calculated a program for me. The program itself consisted of a lot of interval training, walking and running, and it blew my mind how effective it was. Within a few weeks I was able to run five or six miles without hardly breaking a sweat. I couldn't believe that I could achieve such great results without running seven days a week.
There's a lot of debate going on right now, especially in the Silicon Valley communities, about work/life balance. Some say it's good, some say it's bad — I say it's required. You don't have to kill yourself 24/7 to see results from anything. You just have to set a goal, put milestones in place, and then meet those milestones one at a time. As long as you're hitting those milestones, you're in great shape. No need to work any longer or harder than that.
It's OK to Let Others Run Ahead of You
I've run several 5ks and the single half marathon, and in each one of those races I noticed a recurring theme. There's always that guy/girl who jumps out in front and just blows everyone off the starting line. Then, midway through the race, I generally wind up catching them and passing them because they've already run out of gas. I also learned that it's ok to let people pass you by. When you're in a race like that, everyone goes at their own pace, and that's ok. Set a goal for yourself (for me it was to be under 2hrs and 10min) and stick to that goal. Going faster than that can hurt you. You know your capabilities, so just stay within them and forget everyone else.
The same holds true for business and life. Yeah, there is going to be someone in your chosen industry that skyrockets out of the gate. Most of the time, though, these are the companies/people who get passed up at the end because they've run out of gas. Set a goal, pick a pace, and run your own race.
You Need to Enjoy Victory and Accept Defeat
As is the case in running, you're going to win and lose several times in life. The key here is to know how to handle success and failure alike. I've run races where I didn't meet my time goal and I've gone on runs where I didn't even come close to my ultimate goal for distance.
I've had similar experiences in life. I tried my own business for a while, and never could quite scale it like I wanted, so it folded. Now, I'm happily employed at my dream job. I'm enjoying the hell out of myself at my job. I love what I do and everyone I work with, and I celebrate that on a daily basis. I also accept the fact that I've failed many times throughout my life, and I use those as educational experiences that have (hopefully) made me better in the long run. When you can do that, you'll be way ahead of your competition.
One Final Thing
Life lessons are everywhere. You just have to know how to recognise them when you see them. When I first started out training, I had no idea the doors it would open for me. I've gained valuable insight on life, business, and fitness throughout my journey, and it's been one of the best things I ever did for myself both personally and professionally. I think everyone should find an outlet, like running, that they can immerse themselves into and see what kind of lightbulb moments it triggers.
5 Lessons I've Learned from Running That Apply to Life [JustinSeeley.com]
Justin Seeleyis a staff author for lynda.com and an Adobe Certified Expert. He has several years experience in both print and web design, and has authored over 100 hours of instructional content to date. Justin is the creator of the Photoshop Quicktips Podcast, a show that consistently ranked in the top 25 software how-to podcasts in the iTunes store and his techniques have been featured in several digital publications, podcasts and blogs.