As I enter my final year and 14th season of scholastic cross country and track, I want to use our platform to share some of my experiences with the sport and the lessons I have learned. Over the past few years, the world has changed drastically, all during the time that many young adults like myself are undergoing some big changes as well. Throughout my high school and college journey into adulthood, only one thing has remained constant: running.
For many, running can be a hobby, an outlet for stress, a fitness endeavor, or a competitive sport. For me, it has been all of the above and so much more. I believe running takes place in more facets of life than any other sport I have played as it requires a perfect storm of inputs to thrive. Running demands so much from both your body and mind that it truly can change your outlook on life in general.
Because of this, I have gathered 3 benefits to becoming a consistent runner (spoiler! none of them have anything to do with fitness)
1. Teaches Patience and Goal Setting
One of the most important lessons my sport has taught me was how to become content with long-term satisfaction. In the modern world, everything seems so fast-paced and can be overwhelming. By choosing a training plan, and sticking to it, you are forced to accept that your training may not make you feel any faster when you’re done. You may not even feel fitter in a week, or several, but by sticking to a plan and putting in the effort to become a better athlete consistently, eventually meeting your goals becomes all the more satisfying.
2. Improves Work Ethic and Grit
This one might be my favorite. The mental and physical fortitude that running brings transfers to almost every other part of life. Running, while undoubtedly rewarding, can also be taxing on yourself. Over time, I have learned to not only become content with the discomforts associated with cardiovascular exercise, I crave it! The mental battles you learn to manage while out on a long run, race, or even just a day that you struggled to get out the door but did anyway can go a long way. Stressors from school, work, social life, and family become that much easier when you can recall the pain you have already managed in training. I can tell you from experience, that few things have felt much harder to manage than an all-out 10k race!
3. Helps Time Management
The most noticeable change for many new runners is the difference in day-to-day scheduling. Fitting in training can be difficult, sometimes outright impossible. And that’s okay! The important part is that you find the time to get in a session, even when you don’t necessarily want to. When running becomes a daily task in your life, it requires you to get creative with your schedule in order to fit it in. Oftentimes, it’s the early morning, hot afternoon, and 11 pm runs that I look back on the most when finding the motivation to persevere through a hard race. I have learned to manage my work and external “to-dos” better so that I can have the best possible day of school, work, and social life while training—I know that you will too.