Running Lessons


By Myrna Hoover

In almost everything we do lessons of life abound. Running is no exception.

Lesson One: Seize Life, Carpe Vita – Just do it! Running teaches us to do! Whether it is to run 5 miles or 15, easy or hard, alone or with someone, with purpose or not, to meet a goal or simply just to do it – running requires engagement. Life is the same way – if you aren’t actively engaged, you miss the whole purpose. Yesterday is past – tomorrow may never come. Today is the gift we have at hand – don’t waste it.
‘Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Lesson Two: Live in the Moment! Yesterday’s run is history – today’s run is the one that counts. In running, it is easy to second-guess past actions. We pick apart our training, our race strategy, and even our diet. All the analysis and “shoulds” will not change the outcome of past races. Life is the same. Running can teach us that what counts is what we do today. Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Spend your energy on moving forward. When the race is over it’s over. Look at it, learn from it, and go on. Today is the most important race we will run.

Lesson Three: Engage fully in the Race! Whatever purposes your run has for the day – speed work, stress relief, to feel alive, to play, to be alone, to join friends, or to burn calories – it is important. Find your reason for the day – live in the moment and engage in what you are doing – engage fully. We only get one chance at this thing called life we had better not miss the opportunity to enjoy it, be in it and live it as fully as possible. Prefontaine said, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift.”

Lesson Four: Be a Winner! Winning means different things to different people. Sometimes we run to win, sometimes we win simply by running. Running is a sport that allows us to compare our times from one race to another, one person to another, and one event to another. Often we judge the qualities of our runs by winning times, winning records, and “places” won. Life is not so easy to measure – there are no records to beat, times to improve, or places to win. So how do we know when we have won? Carl Jung said, “The true measure of a man is how he walks through the fire.” Life, like running, is not always about what’s easy or what’s obvious -like winning. Usually, it’s about the “how we ran the race” that makes us a winner. George Sheenan suggests the path to this philosophy, “Once you have decided that winning isn’t everything, you become a winner.”

Lesson Five: Never give up! When you run a race, no matter what place you come in; when you go out for a run, no matter what reason; – you “win” the race. Life is the same way! When you participate in the day, being in the moment and living it fully, when you press on through the obstacles in life, – the race of life is won! It is not enough to start the race; the victory is that you finish. Walter Elliot wrote, “Perseverance: is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”

Running lessons teach us to seize the day, making each day and each race the most important one we run. Striving to live like a winner and never giving up adds quality and fulfillment to all the races in our life.

I’ll meet you at the finish…