On the 12th Day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: That Runner’s Perspective

Writing notes at christmasNon-runners don’t always get us. We use acronyms, like MPW or GMP, that only make sense to us. We run at all hours, spend time and money on races that sound insane to any outsider. We get side-eye for skipping out early due to an early morning run date. What’s more, they don’t see how running imitates life and vice versa.

I find a way to relate everything in life to running. And while the non-runners in my life might think me obsessed, I think this perspective is the best gift running has given me.

Some days the runner’s perspective manifests in little ways, like when we run our normal route in the opposite direction, and see all the same things, but in a different way. Other times it enables us to feel gratitude we otherwise might not feel. It’s like smiling and laughing during the second half of a race that’s not going well, because even without a new PR, you’re really living.

No doubt you, like me, have read a million articles about running that leave you nodding your head along in agreement. And as I’ve read through the previous 11 days of this year’s Salty 12 Days posts, I wasn’t shocked to find myself understanding even the most different experiences than my own. We runners all share a similar perspective – we get one another. It’s that runners’ perspective that allows me to feel the gratitude along with all my fellow Saltines for all that running has given to me, has given us. Like …

The Patience of an F’in Saint

With perspective comes the hard lesson of patience. Careers don’t go from mailroom to CEO overnight, just as runners don’t go from couch to Olympics in a season. Learning patience in the process has helped me appreciate how many steps it actually takes to make it to any worthy destination.

Relief from the Stress of Working

I’m not a nurse, but I work two jobs. Some people think I’m crazy to run on top of my demanding schedule, but I appreciate the escape that running provides. When I can’t even keep the days straight it’s nice to look back at the end of the week and see how productive I was as an employee and also as a person who made time for myself.

Occasional Weeks of Resting

Setbacks never feel like it in the short term, but they are always opportunities in disguise. And they’re important reminders that we are not, after all, invincible. Beyond that, we need the perspective to also see that even if we do break, there is life afterwards. It’s taken me a long time to realize that a setback in running or life doesn’t have to be the end of the world, it could just be the fresh start you need to jump start the next chapter.

The Great Outdoors

In college I was the student that loved studying at a picnic table outside instead of the library. But it took going from a track to a road runner to see that, like so many other things, running can be take you anywhere. The great outdoors became my picnic table for running as I learned that beyond the eighth lane was an entire world of wonder.

Flirting with Overtraining

A few years ago I purposely threw my life up in the air and let the shit hit the fan and made a major change in life. It was long overdue and much needed, but still the scariest thing I had done. To cope I poured myself into my training, pushing myself harder, running more, running faster, because it was the one thing that made me feel powerful and in control. But it also pushed me close to overtraining and showed me that, for all the benefits we get from running, it’s important to know our limits.

Friendship with My Sister

Like many others, running allowed me to find a new connection with someone in my life. Growing up my sister and I were both runners but I never really saw us as the same: after all, she ran cross country and I ran in circles and jumped across and over things. As we got older, and both of us started tackling new distances, somehow the gap between us disappeared. Years later we are closer than ever and running is far from the the strongest tie to bind us.

Hu-mil-i-ty!

When things don’t go our way, we so often make excuses instead of stepping back to look at the bigger picture. Getting turned down for teams, elite corrals, and missing big standards has been a tough pill to swallow over the years, but also allowed me to examine why I was doing things. That humble pie helped me see I wanted to do it for me, and allowed me to define my success by my standards and not some arbitrary number.

Food Curiosity

Over time, my perception of food transformed. I began to see food as pre-run necessity and a post-run recovery tool. I began to look at food less out of convenience and more about what it could actually do for me. That rice on my plate is for miles 15-18 of that upcoming run, and that smoothie is the first recovery aid to get me back on the road the next day. The bowl of ice cream still just tastes good though.

Dollar, Dollar Bills

Running can create circles of benefits for the athlete and for others as well. Those charity races receive publicity and support to keep on going, and meanwhile I’ve been able to buy rounds of drinks for people after a race with my small-town race earnings. But I also put those earnings and gift certificates back into the running community! When I buy new shoes and race entries, the cycle starts all over again.

Instacommunity

I’m someone who primarily trains alone, and the concept of community and running isn’t something that makes sense in my life on paper. But Mango’s post about running community made sense to me too. I can be lost in a sea of 30,000 strangers in Boston and feel like I’m surrounded by friends I’ve known forever, people who know what it took to get to that start line and who surely understand the triumph and struggle it can take to get to the finish. No matter how many miles I run by myself, I’m never running alone.

And a Ton of Dirty Laundry

I sat with a blank stare while reading this post, when it suddenly hit me: running has helped me enjoy simple tasks like laundry! Where I once saw tedium, now I find purpose, and a little extra bit of motivation. In running or in household chores, the first step is often the hardest, so we can use all the motivation we can get!

***

I think Bill Bowerman said it best:

I invite you to become students of your events. Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: life.

We hope you enjoyed our 2016 #Salty12Days as much as we have. Which one resonated with you the most? 

We’ll be back on January 2, 2017 with all new Salty stuff! 

An Upstate, NY resident who loves the marathon, a good beer, and all of the numbers/nerdy things. I write about my journey to a sub-3:00 marathon, training tweaks for improvement, and finding that "running/life balance" unicorn. On tap Next: Training to be a first time mom, here we go 2nd Trimester!

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3 comments

  1. “It’s like smiling and laughing during the second half of a race that’s not going well, because even without a new PR, you’re really living.”

    I loved this! I loved the whole post but I loved this statement. I had such a tough year this year when it came to running- we weren’t getting pregnant and it was just so hard on us. When I would try to push it aside and try to squeak in a quick PR, I would half-ass train for something and show up on race day and pray for a miracle. A quarter way into the race, when I clearly wasn’t going to get that PR, it was like a brick to the face that once again, I was “failing” in my mind, but I wasn’t. I was surrounded by community-by friends who supported one another in this crazy running endeavor, and doing what I loved most-even if it wasn’t as fast as I had originally wanted. To be able to run is a blessing in itself. Running totally gave me a new perspective this year, too!

    1. I knew you would be able to relate and I wish I could give you the biggest hug! Running certainly wasn’t top priority this year and really forced some changes in the way we looked at things….but as hard as it was at times…can’t say I’d trade it for anything right now for either of us <3