100 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Running


Just yesterday, I ran across a a newspaper story about a cross country race I did in high school (pictured above) Don’t tell me! I know. I’m so photogenic. Both of those skinny lads ended up beating me, but I remember that race well and can honestly say that I gave it my all. While I was reminiscing, it dawned on me that while I’ve been running for most of my life, I’ve only been a runner for just over 10 years now, but you’d think it’d have been much longer considering all the lessons running has taught me.

As I reflect back on all those miles run at all times of day and night, in summer and winter, in the sun and the rain, on the roads, the trails, and the track, I realized that the more I give to running, the more it gives back to me. And so, to celebrate the gift of running, I want to pay some of those lessons forward to you.

So, here are 100 lessons I’ve learned from 10 years of running. Maybe you’ve learned some of them yourself. The way I figure it, if I post 100 of them, maybe at least one or two of them will actually be useful to you. I’m going for sheer volume here, folks.

Note: Skimmers should take note that the ones in bold are particularly meaningful and/or have had a dramatic impact on my running and life. Skim accordingly!

100 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Running

1) If you run, then you are a runner. Period. #I <3 to run

2) You don’t need those fancy jogging pants or ear buds.

3) It’s ok if you wear fancy jogging pants and ear buds. No hard feelings.

4) Just because some super-humans from Mexico can run hundreds of miles through mountainous terrain wearing nothing but homemade sandals, doesn’t mean you have to. #BornToRun

5) You need to start if you want to finish.

6) Starting somewhere is always better than never starting at all.

7) Putting your shoes on, and walking out the door usually makes starting easier.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pacensepatoso/

8) What you do between your runs will have a direct impact on how you perform during your runs.

9) You can almost always go further, faster, for longer. Don’t forget that.

10) Listen to your body, but don’t let it boss you around.

11) Your muscles are serial liars.

12) You may have been born to run, but you were born for other things, too. Let’s not forget about the others now.

13) Lucky socks aren’t actually lucky, but believing in yourself almost always brings good fortune.

14) Running outdoors is way better for you than running on a treadmill.

15) Running on a treadmill is way better than not running at all.

16) Clarity of mind and purpose make the hard runs infinitely more manageable.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/antonio75/

17) If you look forward to running, you’re 2,738 times more likely to do it regularly. Yes, 2,738.

18) Running builds character. If you want to build a lot of character quickly, run hills.

19) Going for a run you had planned, even though you don’t want to, also builds character.

20) It’s ok to lose a race if you still win some self-confidence.

21) Starting is half the battle. Following through is the other half.

22) Gratitude and running should go hand in hand.

23) If you want to be a good runner, you need to take care of your body in other ways, too.

24) If you can get your mind on board, your body will always come along for the ride.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thehappyrower/

25) You don’t need to win any medals or break any records, but you do need to be true to yourself.

26) Warmups and other preparation will often dictate the range of your potential performance during a run. So, prepare wisely.

27) If you start thinking about strange, inconsequential things while running, you’re in good company.

28) Running is a natural human movement, but running with optimal skill does not come naturally.

29) Even something as inherently human and rudimentary as running requires practice.

30) Running at your peak ability is supposed to be hard, but running isn’t supposed to hurt.

31) A little discomfort when you run hard is normal, but pain is an indication that something is wrong.

32) Most of the time, you should feel better after your run than you did before.

33) Stopping to walk or rest usually makes things worse in the end.

34) Running is pure enough to have no need of “running accessories,” but keep your clothes on, ok?

35) The supreme accomplishment of running is to run with ease – if not effortlessly.

36) Making your health one of your top priorities always pays off at the best times.

37) Increasing the quality of your runs is, more often than not, a better solution than increasing the quantity.

38) An easy way to make a friend is to join someone for a run.

39) Having a good running program is important, but showing up for each run and giving it your all is even more important.

40) Racing is a great competition, but the best competition is always within.

41) The hardest competitor you’ll ever face is yourself.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mnemonic/

42) If you put limits on yourself, you’ll never be a great runner.

43) If you want to be a strong runner, you’ll need a strong body.

44) If you want a strong body, you’ll need a strong mind.

45) Running can and should be a joyful experience. It’s meant to be.

46) In most cases, people whom dislike running aren’t very good at it.

47) Anyone with two good legs can be a good runner. Even some people without legs are.

48) When you always run on roads that are pitched to the side for water run-off, your body will often manifest imbalances as a result.

49) When you’re about to give up, it’s about to get easier.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nahual_neo/

50) Baby steps take a little longer in the beginning, but they always take you further in the end.

51) An indomitable will trumps even the best of running programs.

52) Pronators, supinators, heel-strikers, and fore-footers really aren’t all that different.

53) Running has a way of turning your character flaws into character strengths.

54) Proper running does not cause injuries in the body. Improper running often does.

55) Being a strong runner takes courage to face and defeat your inner struggles.

56) It’s a lot easier to keep going than it is to restart.

57) If you’re tired of starting over, maybe you should stop quitting.

58) Sometimes, it’s best to run alone, and other times it’s best to run with a companion. (furry companions work, too.)

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hseoane/

59) Most dogs are naturally much better at running than their humans, and you can learn a lot about how to run by watching a dog. Just don’t use all four of your paws like they do.

60) It doesn’t matter where you live or where you run, bringing your dog with you will always – ALWAYS – make things more interesting.

61) Most people are capable of exceeding at least 10 times their perceived potential.

62) If you can’t relax your head, neck, and face while running, then you’re doing it wrong.

63) Negative self-talk comes with the territory. It’s how you respond to it that matters.

64) Giving up is the most sinister form of defeat and the easiest one to rationalize when running.

65) I don’t care what kind of intervals you use, as long as you are working hard and constantly improving.

66) If you’ve completed a marathon, you’ve accomplished a great feat of endurance. If you’re completed an ultra-marathon, you not only have my respect, but you’re also eligible to board the looney bus. You’re in good company.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kishorephotography/

67) Running is supposed to be easy, but as a culture, we tend to make it harder than it really is.

68) Too much of a good thing can hurt, and yes, even kill you.

69) What you eat in the days prior to your run is what you’ll use for energy. Fuel up wisely.

70) If you need to recharge or reset, running can help.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lululemonathletica/

71) Most runners have legs. Most good runners have good legs. Most great runners have great legs. Get the idea?

72) Running can be easy or hard, and it’s usually your choice.

73) How you rest and recover is just as important as how you run.

74) The best way to improve your speed is usually to slow down.

75) It doesn’t matter if you can run for 100 miles or 100 feet. You’re still a runner.

76) If you want to be able to run not just for years, but into old age, you’re going to have to do it right from the start.

77) In an industry fraught with all kinds of energy and sports drinks, water is still liquid gold after a hot summer run. Don’t take it for granted.

78) If you’re wondering where you should run, “that way” is usually a good start.

79) Running in extreme weather conditions usually stinks, but not running because you’re a wuss stinks even more.

80) Practicing yoga has made me a much stronger runner.

81) Using running as a form of self-punishment is self-destructive.

82) Waiting until you’re ready never works. It’s the whole waiting part that delays everything.

83) Finishing your early morning run strong means that you’ll start your day strong.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

84) Running is worship.

85) You can always go longer than you think you can. Start thinking about that next time you head out.

86) Passing a skilled runner late in the race because you paced yourself is pretty cool. OK, you’re right. It’s totally BOSS.

87) If you smile and wave at another runner passing by, and they glare at you, just keep running. Trust me.

88) Running inspires all sorts of things: other people, you, and creativity, just to name a few.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebaird/

89) If you’re tired, running can help. If you’re sad, running can help. If you’re stressed out, running can help. If you’re…

90) If you progress incrementally, there’s no limit on what you can achieve.

91) Running first thing in the morning makes the rest of your day better.

92) The fastest way to correct poor running technique is to run barefoot.

93) Running barefoot, even on the most forgiving surfaces, often exposes significant weaknesses in most shod runners. Speaking of which…

94) You’ll watch out for those barefooters if you know what’s good for you. Thems crazy folks!

95) You need to push until the end for your effort to truly matter.

96) Running is merely one of the many basic human movement skills. And if running is this good, just imagine what the rest of them could be like! #MovNat

97) Never give up. #NDCQ

98) Becoming a runner means that you’ll get a direct connection to a universal, unspoken language that has existed in every runners mind since the origin of humanity. Yeah, it’s kindof a big deal. So, pay attention.

99) There’s more to running than logging more miles or shaving more time off your races. A lot more.

100) Running can teach us many things about ourselves and about life, if we pay attention.

But you actually have to get out and run for that to happen. Now, before you go out and do that, please share this article with one of those handy-dandy buttons on the left if you agree with some of these lessons I’ve shared, and maybe even learned some of them yourself while out on the road, track, or trail.

And if you liked this post, then please signup for my newsletter, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates. Happy running!

Recommended Reading

How to Run Every Single Day for One Year

Persistence Hunting and Endurance Running: 5 Tips to Run Effortlessly

The Little-Known Philosophy of Gentle Running

How to Run Better For “The Perfect Run”

Learn the Skill of Barefoot Running

The Definitive Guide For Transitioning To Barefoot Running

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends and tweeps:

Health-First Fitness Coach

One Response

  1. Great post, John. Funny and concise, but eminently “chewey” and ponderable.

Leave a Reply