cross_country483x726 Recently I decided to put my running shoes back on and begin training to run 5K’s. I used to run everyday and I used to be on the Cross Country team in high school, but since my 3rd year and college running really to a back seat. Hard to believe, but 6 years ago I moved to Nashville, and running was not that important to me and now it shows. I thought by stop running I was saying goodbye to hill runs, intervals, hard distance runs forever, but that was false.

Now that I have began to run and train again I have learned that being on that Cross Country team taught me a lot of life lessons. As I am running that hill, I can hear Coach Wood pushing me on saying that I have it in me. As I am doing that interval run I look at the next lamp post in my neighborhood and I know if I take a few more steps, I’ll be there. As I was running the other day I remembered the life lessons Cross Country taught me and here they are:

When you think you can’t, you can. If you listen to runners or athletes you will hear about something called a second wind. We all hit this point when we are running when we get to the point where you just want to stop. That’s the point when you push through. If you can get through that quitting point, you will make it to the end of your run. It’s in that moment that you take that pivotal next step and then you will learn that you can go a lot further that you thought you could. So when you feel like giving up in the moment that you are in, just say, “It think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

Resting is just as important as your hard work. When you run or workout you interchange hard days with lighter days. When I ran Cross Country we would have a “hard” day and then an “easy” day. The easy days give our muscles and bodies a chance to rebuild. In life you can have hard days, but some days you need rest. Sometimes you need a vacation. If you continue day after day going at it really hard you will burn out.

Think short term and you will go long. The key to distance running is breaking the distance up. While training I think about running to the next lamp post, before I know it I have made it through my run. It is like that in many facets of life. Say for instance you are budgeting. You think in the month, for the month. Yes you have long term goals, but you deal with your budget in the month for the month. Before you know it you have saved a nest egg and are living like nobody else. Even if you’re backed in a corner, see if you can make that next step and before you know it you will go further than you ever thought was possible.

If you are training, you have to have a plan to achieve your goal. If you want to run a marathon or get a good time in a 5K, you have to have a plan to get there. Effective people and athletes put together a plan, set attainable goals, and then the succeed. It takes baby steps to get where you want to go. Sometimes in athletic training you will make big strides of progress and then you will hit a plateau. The same is in life. You have to make a plan and execute with measurable and attainable goals.

Running down hill hurt more than running uphill. As much as that doesn’t make sense in your head it is true. When you make yourself run uphill it is hard, but it will build muscle and endurance. If you run down a steep down hill, it will hurt. You may not feel it right then, but wait until the next day. Next time you run down hill try to see how much stress is being put on your leg muscles. Just as in life, if you want to take the path of least resistance and coast through life, it will hurt you in the long run. You may not feel it at first, but you will feel it tomorrow.

When you have smarts you can make it as far as people with talent, sometime you will make it further. When I ran Cross Country, I was not the best out there. I barley ran a mile under 6 minutes. However I could beat the guys running around me during the race. I would run behind them most of the race and play mind games with them. With the last stretch I would step it up and pass them because I had exhausted them mentally. The same is true in life. Sometimes people have more talent, but you have perseverance and can pass them when they become lazy.

Getting Embarrassed is not a valid reason to give up. There are many obstacles when running Cross Country. One is that you do not run on flat paved surface. You will occasionally hit a rock or root and fall flat on your face. People are watching, you can’t give up because you are embarrassed. Those moments may be embarrassing, but eventually they will be memories that you can laugh at. You begin to learn to have better footing and to watch where you are running. The same is true in life. “Why do we fall, to learn to pick ourselves up.” –Thomas Wayne, Batman Begins.

Opening Scene, Chariots of Fire