I have been a runner since 1992. About seven years ago, I wanted to get faster. I wanted to run a 6.5 minute per mile pace in a 5K. I set the goal, but I knew I needed help. I hired a running coach.

Life Lessons from RunningEvery two weeks, I received a new list of what to run and some metrics of what to achieve. Every week, I reported my progress.

Having the schedule and the reporting in place motivated me to the point that I never once missed what I was supposed to do – rain, cold, or anything else could have convinced me to skip. No excuses. I was motivated.

Besides what I learned from my running coach, I added to my workout schedule other things to make me more fit. I started lifting weights and changed my diet.

The bottom line is: I changed my lifestyle to meet my goal of speed.

Well, to get to my goal, I ran many, many miles every week. At one point it came up in conversation, why not run half marathons? The reality was, with just a little bit more effort, I could run distance as well as speed. My goal grew in scope.

During the races, I discovered my front half of a race was faster than my back half. This was not ideal. I needed to pace myself. This is tough! When a race begins, the energy flows, and you are dodging people to try to find your place where you have a clear path in front. It’s hard to temper your enthusiasm and a rush of the start of big race!

To accomplish my goal, however, I needed to temper my early pace and then quicken my pace later in the race. I needed to apply my efforts differently at different times in order to achieve what I wanted.

There are many life lessons I learned:

  • Pace is critical. Know when to reserve some energy. Know when to speed ahead.
  • Many life elements need to adapt to achieve an important goal. It is more than body; it is mind, spirit, fuel (food), etc.
  • Be unafraid to broaden your perspective and achieve a larger goal. You are putting the effort in. Take advantage of it and maybe enlarge the possible achievement.
  • A coach can get you to the next level. Ask for help. Take the guidance and do something with it. Make it a discipline.
  • Go beyond the focused guidance and bring in other new practices to make yourself better. Take the help you get, and add to it. Expand your training beyond just want is needed. Embrace a more holistic approach to get you to where you want to go.

Did I make it? Yes. Running a half marathon in an under-7-minute-per-mile pace was more satisfying than my original 5K goal. It was all worth it!

What life lessons have you learned from running, biking, hiking, walking, etc.? Share your experience.