What Running Can Teach You About Life

EPISODE 45

I officially ran my first-ever 5k race, and I want to share what running can teach you about living your life.

I didn’t expect to run a race, but sometimes, the unexpected things teach us the most.

Let’s dive into the story.

WHAT RUNNING CAN TEACH YOU — HOW IT ALL STARTED

I didn’t come in first or second. In fact, I came in 144th place.

I wasn’t planning on running a race, but I saw a sign in my neighborhood that there would be one right across the street from my house.

It sounded fun, so I signed up.

And you know what?

I loved the entire experience.

Even though I didn’t come in first or second place, I had a lot of fun. I thought I’d come up somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I did.

144th out of 288 runners.

Instead of feeling exhausted or like I’d failed to come in 144th place, I felt energized!

What really helped me were these three things, these three learnings that made the race day so amazing and fulfilling.

LIFE LESSONS FROM RUNNING #1: WE THRIVE IN THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

It’s not about the people. It’s about the environment you place yourself in.

When I got to the starting line, I immediately felt a cool vibe — people of all different ages, body shapes, and fitness levels were united with this one goal of running a race.

It was like a tribute…

To myself, who I was. It was about celebrating ourselves, testing our limits and what we’re capable of, and celebrating that.

In that environment, you feel that energy.

You feel like you can do so much more.

As I approached the finish line, I remember those volunteers cheering me on and police officers cheering me on.

Everybody was cheering everybody.

I can hardly say I surrounded myself with five of those people. I didn’t know any of them.

There were hundreds of people, but the environment, the spirit, and the vibe of the whole race were amazing.

And that’s what I was striving for — to experience what that would feel like.

Why the environment and not the people?

Your environment makes such a big difference.

It’s one thing to have your goals, but if you’re in a toxic environment where nobody supports you, it will be so much harder to succeed.

So, if you find an environment where you’re supported, it’ll be much easier to achieve your goals.

LIFE LESSONS FROM RUNNING #2: IF YOU APPROACH YOUR GOAL WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVATION, YOU CAN’T FAIL

I wasn’t approaching this race to win but to see what I could do and to experience this environment.

I was approaching the race with a sense of curiosity. I wanted to know what it would be like and how I could perform in this environment without achieving a specific number or result.

With that mindset, whatever the outcome was, I’d be successful, right?

So often, we set goals for ourselves that are so results-oriented.

Yes, if you’re an Olympic athlete trying to break a world record or get first place, the number will be your goal.

But you can’t set all goals this way, especially life goals.

Life goals need to be process-oriented.

If you’re focused on a number, you aren’t looking far enough.

A result-oriented goal is just a moment in time, a split second.

The paradox is we don’t even realize we hit this goal sometimes.

We set goals for ourselves to become rich, fit, to lose or gain weight, but we never really celebrate when we get to that point because we could always earn more money, lose more weight, or run faster.

There will always be the next goal.

Once we achieve the first goal, we set the next goal and the next.

Life becomes a continuous chase for these numbers.

Numbers don’t tell the story of what you were experiencing while working towards them.

True magic lies in learning something about yourself, your life, and the process of getting somewhere.

That 5k was the fastest I’ve ever run in Houston. But it wasn’t the fastest I’ve run in Los Angeles.

So, even though I wasn’t focused on getting that result, I was able to hit the best result of mine while experiencing something wonderful.

It’s all about finding the right motivation.

And the best motivation is always in the process.

LIFE LESSONS FROM RUNNING #3: WE ACHIEVE OUR BEST RESULTS WHEN WE STAY MINDFUL AND LOOK AHEAD

If you check in with yourself on your way toward a goal, you’re more likely to achieve the best results.

As I was running, probably around halfway in the race, I knew it was time to speed up.

Our first instinct might be to force ourselves to speed up and push ourselves to run faster, but I approached it from a different angle.

  1. I started looking way ahead. Instead of just looking a few feet in front of me or mindlessly looking around, I picked a goal a few hundred feet ahead.
  1. I checked in with my form. Am I breathing mindfully? Is there tension in my shoulders, arms, or fists?

I was checking in with myself and staying mindful of my form and breathing while also looking way ahead to where I was trying to get to.

Sometimes, we want to achieve a goal so badly that we forget everything else.

We forget about living life today.

The only thing that matters is getting to that point in the future, and we feel stressed out and begin a cycle that actually prevents us from achieving our goals.

So the paradox is…

The more you fixate on trying to achieve a goal mindlessly, the less chance you have to accomplish it.

When you stay present, look around, check in with yourself, and appreciate what’s happening in your life now, you get into a positive mindset.

In a positive state of mind, you’re much more likely to achieve your goals.

The other end of the spectrum is being so close up and focused on yourself that you never look up to pick a goal in the first place.

So, you must have both a clear goal in front of you and stay present and appreciate the journey to get there.

When you harness both of these tools, you always know what the next best step is.

While these lessons are what running can teach you, they aren’t really about running. You don’t have to be a runner to apply these ideas to your life.

I encourage you to think about the following questions:

  1. How can I apply these learnings to my life today?
  2. What can I do to put myself in the right environment to thrive and get closer to achieving my goals?
  3. What can I do today to find more of the right motivation driven by the process?
  4. What can I do today to get more clarity around my goals?

Continue to check in with yourself to see where you are right now, how far you’ve come, and how beautiful life is.

If you have any questions or feedback, please send me a DM on Instagram or shoot me an email.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time,

Olena xx

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