7 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Running!

I have someone super special for you today  Rachelle is one of the most supportive, generous, kind, caring, service-oriented, talented humans on the planet. The world needs a lot more Rachelles.  PS I did pay her to say the below nice things about me.

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Hi Hungry Runner readers! My name is Rachelle and you may recognize me from a few appearances on Janae’s blog.  I wish you could each meet Janae in real life because she really is just as amazing as she seems.  Janae is genuinely the kindest, funniest, and most humble person on the planet.  I adore her and wish you could all fly to Utah and run with us.  I am absolutely honored to be a guest blogger today.

I started running in 2010 and shortly after met and began running with Janae.  As a runner I experienced a very quick rise to local elite status.  I am not a professional runner, but I have ran a couple sub-3 hour marathons, a 1:17 half, and a 38 minute 10k.  I’ve experienced many highs and lows in running and am constantly working to find a good running/life balance.

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Racing and competing are on the back burner for me right now while I take some time off to heal a few lingering injuries and regain my health.  In the meantime I’ve switched my running focus to coaching, pacing and helping other runners.  I love running and I also love people so coaching and pacing fit me perfectly! Today I am going to talk about 7 life lessons running has taught me.  I hope you will stick around and can gain some perspective from my experience as an elite runner and running coach. At the end of the day, and most importantly, I am just a normal person searching for balance in running and life just like you:)  

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1.  You must believe in yourself to accomplish your goal.  In order to accomplish a goal you must first love yourself enough to believe you are capable. Once you believe in yourself it seems to eliminate pressure.  Without believing in yourself it is easy to sabotage yourself.  Remember that you are worth it and if you don’t feel good about you it is hard to feel good about anything else. 

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2.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  In running it is easy to compare yourself to someone else’s best qualities because those are often the qualities we see.  Through experience and being more mindful I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate everyone’s best qualities as well as my own.  Everyone has weaknesses and everyone has strengths.

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3.  We’re all in this together.  The real war and the biggest competitor is often your own voice.  I’ve raced against and competed with my best friends regularly and we genuinely want each other to succeed.  Often the biggest obstacle we will face in life and running are our own inner demons.  If we can focus on the positive and support each other we will ultimately better ourselves and set a good example for those around us.  

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4.  Running a certain time/distance/pace will not change you or make you happy.  Goals are important and healthy but they do not change who you are as a person.  When I first started running I was so focused on my training plan and my goal that I completely ignored my inner instincts.  I missed out on fun family events, dating, and life because I was so wrapped up in my training.  From experience I’ve learned that it is okay to miss a workout, or even a race, because at the end of the day, it is just running.  We are all more than runners and have more to offer the world than just our running.

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5.  Your body is capable of more than you ever imagined.  I don’t believe anyone was necessarily born to run.  Rather I think anyone is capable of becoming a runner if they have the desire and are willing to work.  In high school I struggled to complete a 13 minute mile to pass my 9th grade PE class and now I can run two miles in that time.  The difference is not that my physical limitations have changed.  It is my desire and willingness to reach outside my comfort zone.  

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6.  Live limitless and don’t give up on yourself.  My first marathon in 2011 was 3:54 and 9 months later in 2012 I ran 2:58.  Most often we surrender to our own fears and pre-conceived limitations.  If we eliminate self-imposed limits we are truly capable of anything we put our minds to and are capable of becoming our best selves.

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7.  Failure is not final.  When I first started racing if I did not achieve my goal I was embarrassed, ashamed and incredibly hard on myself.  Now I’ve learned that failure is critical to success and without the awful times the great times are not as amazing.  It is the failure that shapes us and helps us to grow.  

The theme you may have noticed to everything running has taught me is that regardless of my accomplishments, self-love and self-worth are vital to happiness and joy in all things.  Running a PR, winning money from racing, or reaching that finish line first do not make me happy or change me.  The friendships I’ve developed through running and the deep and profound appreciation I’ve gained for my body will always be my greatest and most important takeaways.  

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Running has taught me to be kinder to myself, to honor my body, and to practice balance in all things.

What life lessons have you learned form running?

What other aspects of your life make you who you are besides running?

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96 comments

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Completely agree with all of these, especially #1 and 5! Funny how each time we train for something it all comes up.

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LOVE this post – thanks, Rachelle! Especially No. 4 – YES!! Lovely pics too!

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Great post!!!
Running regularly reminds me to be patient and enjoy the journey!!!

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I love #2! I struggle with that one the most I think but running has taught me that your best competition is yourself. If I can always work to be better than I was yesterday I will find more satisfaction than if I am constantly comparing myself to others.

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I’ve learned that I’m a runner, but I’m also so much more. I love running, but it doesn’t define me. I also love how comparable running is to life in terms of the journey and overcoming obstacles.

PS I listened to “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical right before I read this :)

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I absolutely love that Natalie. Now I am totally singing that song in my head. haha! I wish we could all get together and watch that show. Have an amazing day.

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Running helps me to be more patient. I tend to want to do things now and not wait for it and running helps me enjoy the process. I’m certainly not the best runner but I also can appreciate the things my body can do on both s good and bad run. Love these, thanks for the reminders!

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The picture of you in the pink top with your arms raised is awesome! Your happiness is shining through so strongly!

Thank you for sharing all of these lessons and tips today. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through running is that determination is an important quality to have. It’s what helps us set challenging goals, what gets us out the door for thousands of training miles and what pushes us to achieve in races!

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I completely agree Kristina! Determination makes everything else possible.

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i love hearing fast runners like yourself say that you don’t always follow training plans to the T and you make sure family/friends/life is a part of everything. Its easy to get caught up in the training and forget that paces and finishing times are not always the most important thing in life.

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Failure is not final. That one really spoke to me. :) thanks for sharing these rachelle.

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I love #6! Running has helped me remove some of my self-imposed limitations, both in the sport itself and life. Running also teaches me to be resilient and overcome obstacles.

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wow #4! I need to write this down and remind myself everyday… along with all of the others! I get SO wrapped up in my training and easily put my loved ones on the back burner. I also need to accept that reaching my goals won’t change who I am because it puts too much pressure and would make not reaching my goals devastating. This was great, thank you!

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You are more than welcome Margaret! Best of luck with all of your goals in running and life. :)

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such a great post and loved the emphasis on working on who you are as a whole, not just as a runner– so important! I think I do have preconceived limitations about how fast I can be (aka same pace I always run) but deep down I know I can be faster if I actually work for it– its mental!!

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I have learned how strong I am through running. My son has shown me so much about myself. I have definitely learned the most from him!

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WOW! You are amazing! Do you have a running blog to read?

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Hi Jenn, thank you so very much for your kind words. I do have a blog but I do not update it unfortunately. What I failed to mention in the post is that I have a regular full time job completely outside of running too. haha! Maybe this will motivate me to start blogging more. http://www.runningfortrevor.com

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#6 is so true. It’s so easy to doubt ourselves. I love this post – a perfect touch of positivity on this Monday morning.

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What an amazing post, thank you so much for sharing!! I agree with all your lessons :)

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Thank you for sharing, love this! In 9th grade, I fainted and then threw up in gym after being forced to run the mandatory mile as my “doctor’s note” excusing me had not arrived to the school in time. While my gym teacher NEVER made me run again, I laugh to think of what she would think of me now, a runner! We all have the power to run so long as we try.

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Oh I love this Meredith! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was the same way in HS….the furthest I ran was from the couch to the fridge. We are all capable of whatever we put our minds to. Have an amazing day!

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Running helped me listen to my body and be kind to myself. It took a lot of years of running for that lesson to come. I used to get really upset on any off day I was having. But I’ve learned since then that everyone has off days. It’s better for me to be kind and happy with myself for trying than to beat myself up for it.

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Thanks so much for this great advice. I fall victim to low self esteem when I’m having a hard race and I know it’s a downward spiral. I’m going to review these things when I need a pick me up! It’s all so true :)

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Thank you so much for saying that Lisa. Best of luck with all of your goals in running and life.

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I can relate to all of these. Running has taught me that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for and that growth comes from challenging our comfort zones! I enjoy running most when I am doing it for me and also striking the balance between running and other aspects of life. It takes a lot of practice but very rewarding.
Thanks for your uplifting guest post!

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Lots and lots of practice, I could not agree more with that. Thank you so much for the comment.

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I learned I can do *anything* if I put my mind to it! When I was overweight I NEVER thought I’d be a runner. Then I ran a 5k in 45 minutes and couldn’t believe it! Almost a year later I ran my first marathon and I was hooked.

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I really enjoyed this post, thanks Rachelle! I do believe that living limitless and your body can truly accomplish more than you ever dreamed. Great post!

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These are such good reminders and so true. I usually take these as a given and assume I know them, but it’s good to re-read them and remember to apply them. Thanks!

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I love #4- I have to remind myself during training cycles not to say no to people or events because of running. It is important to have goals and a healthy activity, but not so much that is takes over your life! I had a hard time dealing with that during my first marathon training cycle.

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I love how you took an hour off your marathon time in 9 months. Now THAT is absolutely incredible. My favourite is number 5. Our bodies are capable of more than we have ever imagined, and not just in regards to running, but enduring things in life we never thought we could endure.

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I could not agree more Suzy, wonderful insight.

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You’re amazing Rachelle! I’d run with both of you and only be a little embarrassed that I’m almost twice as slow. ;)

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Kathee I would run with you any day of the week! Seriously. Thank you for the comment and have an amazing night.

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love love love this post! Thank you!! I especially believe that everyone is capable of being a runner- I am such an advocate for that! :)

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Thank you so much Anna! I agree about everyone being capable of running if they just gain the confidence to try. My favorite quote of all time is “the miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

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I used to read your blog way back in the day and always thought you were so inspirational- not just your amazing times and how much you improved in a short time, but also how you dedicated your runs in memory of your brother Trevor. I like all of your life lessons but my favorite is #6- not giving up and staying strong as a runner has helped me in all areas of life, too.

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I absolutely love this post! Those are all such great lessons and ones we forget as runners and competitors.

My running life lesson: Hard work pays off when you put in the time and effort.

Other aspects of my life that make me who I am are being a caregiver to friends, family and children and running a business that is working to create social equality in Philadelphia.

Thanks for making me think about things that make me who I am outside of running – like I said, it’s something we forget as competitors, but is so important to our overall happiness.

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Love this! Running brings so many great things to my life and it is a huge part of who I am. It is really amazing how running and life lessons relate. Your comments above on ‘Failure is not final’ really resonates with me! Over time I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself when a run/race doesn’t go as planned. There is always another one to look forward to.

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What an inspiration you are lady! I completely agree with every one of these! I think the biggest one that resonates with me is that you are capable of more than you realize. We’re all held back by our fears or preconceived beliefs of what we can and cannot do. Anything is truly possible.

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I could not agree more Megan. Best of luck with all of your goals in running and life. :)

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Wow, I love all of these lessons. #5 is definitely a big one. And I think that applies to so much more in life than just running. If you really want something, you’ll find a way. The other thing that defines me is science.

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Thank you so much for sharing! I’m training for my first marathon and struggling a lot with knowing that I can complete it. #5 will be taped to my mirror and repeated every morning :)

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I hope you feel better soon :) You’re amazing!!!

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Thank you Rachelle!

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Love this list Rachelle, thanks for sharing! You were my pacer at the Star Valley Half and helped me reach a 3-minute PR!

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Erin, oh my goodness I absolutely remember you and your husband! Thank you so much for commenting! How did your full marathon go?

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It went well… at least for the first 23 miles! I’m running Chicago this weekend and hoping to stay strong for 26 this time ?

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Oh I am so glad. Best of luck this weekend!

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Love these running & life lessons, Rachelle. Beautifully stated, very wise, and much needed!
Running has shown me the beauty of nature, that I am stronger than I think (sometimes), that it is ok to fail as failure is in the eye of the beholder. That one run does not make or break me, and that the key to longevity is balance and listening to your body.
Racing has shown me that the human race is full of strength, compassion, drive, determination and that the running community is unbelievably supportive, caring, focused and full of love.
Thanks for sharing, Rachelle!

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Comparison is the thief of joy = YES!! One of my all-time favorite quotes, and a true life motto!

xo

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#2 and #5 really speak to me!

I fell like MANY other things define me outside of running. Wife, mother, daughter, employee. But I will admit that when I am sick and /or injured and can’t run those other roles probably suffer a bit. I need exercise for my mental health :)

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Oh I so get that. Running is such an amazing outlet!

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Totally agree that comparison is the thief of joy. I think running also taught me how to take care of my body. It’s definitely made me more in-tune with it. I know when to rest and when to push it. I know when I need to take a break (and not just from running). It’s helped my confidence and understanding of my body so much. Thanks for the guest post Rachelle and Janae!

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This is such a wonderful point Annie! Running really does teach us so much about ourselves. Thank you so much.

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What a fantastic post and attitude toward life!! Thank you both for this.

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At the end of the day, it’s just running. Simple and hard to grasp at the same time. I run, it’s not who I am but what I enjoy doing.

Taking an hour off your marathon time in 9 months is pretty darned amazing. Thanks posting.

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Loved loved loved this post! I was wondering if anyone knew of a good training schedule for a marathon in order to get my time down? I recently ran a 3:53 marathon and would like to get that down before my next one :)

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Hi Kara! Thank you for your kind words. I’d love to help you with your training. Feel free to e-mail me anytime.

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Rachelle has helped me through email with a couple of my goal half marathons and she is so nice. The only thing that makes me sad about this post is that it looks like she might have been pacing the SV half marathon, which I was planning on running until we up and moved the weekend before. I would have loved to meet her and I would have pushed for a 1:45. :)

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Oh my goodness I am so sad right now! Can we please meet up for a race soon? I hope you are doing so well Jill.

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You only get what the day gives you… it’s what you make with it that defines you as a person…

I’ve paced a handful of races. (When I’m not looking to PR or have a goal time) Pacing for me is hands down the best way to enjoy a race =)

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Love this and I love Utah! I lived there for 2 years during grad school. I agree with all of these – I love the running community and the excitement and support at races. I used to say to my college roommate, “why would you pay to run?” but now I totally understand! Running helps me when I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed, upset, sad, etc. I always feel better after a run.

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haha my sister always asks me why I pay to run. Move back to Utah Jill. :)

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Sending love your way!

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This is a great piece!!! What an inspiring gal!!

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This was such an AWESOME post. I loved it! Thank you! I really want to get faster and this just convinced me that I can if I change my mentality and work hard. Thank you!

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Great post Rachelle. You are an amazing runner, but like you mentioned, you aren’t JUST a runner. You are such an amazing and selfless person. Always honest and willing to help anyone that needs it. Loved reading your tips. They definitely resonated with me :)

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Thank you so much Megan. Hey, I think it’s been way too long since I’ve seen you!

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While I am not a runner, I lift weights and have competed in powerlifting (total novice.) All of these points are extremely applicable to lifting and I found myself nodding in agreement as I said to my self “Its so nice Im not alone in this.” I love love love #4. Self love is so important.

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I truly believe that we all face the same self-doubt and talking about it is so liberating and refreshing. Thank you for commenting Mollie.

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What an awesome post! This list really hits home and is so true. Running definitely puts life into perspective. Thanks for sharing!

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Okay, totally random-is the pacing picture from the Star Valley half marathon in Wyoming?

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Hi Leeann, yes it absolutely is! Too funny. Such a fun small town race that my group had the opportunity to pace this year.

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That’s awesome! My in laws live there so I raced it last year. Such a fun race :)

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Thanks to both of you for sharing this! It so perfectly expresses why I love running. Though I came to it late in life, I am grateful for how it has improved my life. This literally made me cry happy tears tonight, and I shared it with all my friends as well as on Twitter. Beautiful. Wishing you both all the best!! Hugs from Oklahoma.

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Hi Marie, thank you so much for your comment. I started running later in life as well and am so glad I found it. Best of luck to you in all of your running and life goals.

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This post hits home on so many differently levels. I had the honor and pleasure to be coached by Rachelle this past year. She is the most kindest, loving and biggest cheerleader. For this, I THANK YOU very much . . .

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You are more than welcome Adrian. You are one of the kindest people I know. So thankful for your friendship.

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This is a great post! I really needed to remember these at this point in my marathon training cycle!

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I haven’t been able to run for nine days due to a muscle strain (until this morning, when I was able to slowly jog about 4 miles… progress!), and ironically the lack of running has made me think on some very similar lessons to these… especially #2 and #4. I’ve had to remind myself many times that running does not make me who I am; it’s just something I really like to do. And my life will not end if I take some time away from it – in fact, ALL serious runners have to take rest periods every now and then. So it’s been really hard not running, but in a way it’s been beneficial…

That being said, I am so ready to get back to it. My body is craving a nice double-digit-mile-run!

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I completely understand Grant. The only beauty of injury is it makes us appreciate running so much more when we’re able to get back at it. Best of luck in your return. :)

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I love this!!! #5 and #6 are so, so true.
How amazing that you took over an hour off your time in 9 months!!
Great post and thank you so much for sharing!!
I have learned that we all go though ups and downs in running (and in life). I think going through the tough times makes the victory and good times that much sweeter!!
Best of luck to you in your coaching and healing!!

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Wow, what an amazing story! Fantastic lessons and great photos, Rachelle!

Definitely #2 about comparison and #5 about capability. When I began running two years ago, it was slow, with lots of stops and starts. But realizing I was capable of more means three halfs and my first full in four weeks!

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Great post! It’s really fun to hear lessons from other runners.
-I’ve learned to (try) to get out of my head, self doubt is harmful.

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Love these and this post! Running has taught me since I first started at age 35 and will be 40 soon that I can teach my children they truly don’t know what they are capable of unless they try. If I believed in myself as a little girl the sky is the limit. I want to instill them confidence to show up to whatever start line they chose in life. Just try.

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Oh rachelle, how I just love you! Reading this, I just want to give you a big hug. You are so warm and genuinely kind. There have been many obstacles in your life that you don’t mention. These hardships have molded you into a wonderful person that I strive to be like.
I can’t just call you or text you all the time, but I seriously want to! Whenever I think of you, I just get warm and happy. Hee hee. David and I will adopt you any day and take you away to Texas. All of your little nieces and nephews would be heart broken, so I guess I will adopt you from afar.
Thank you for sharing the beautiful picutres. You need to frame that first one. So pretty.

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Just like any sport – I do understand that running can lead to injury! But I have seen so many people run until their bones and muscles cant take it any longer! I was once a runner…experience major knee pain through a half marathon and just kept going. Going up stairs were excruciating – doctors told me to stop running but it was SO hard to listen. NOW i finally moved on to spinning, occasional running, and group exercise classes. My knees don’t ache, my achilles no longer hate me and im stronger and more fit then ever! I think the message is running is not as good we thought it was 5 years ago!

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Hey Rachelle, I wanted to report back that I was really thinking about all the things you wrote about in this post and had a renewed mindset on my 9 miler this morning. I have been feeling extra beat down by my training the last couple of weeks but I am determined to have a positive attitude the next 5 weeks until my marathon. Sometimes I need to remind myself that running is just a hobby and I choose to do it because it brings me joy.

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Thank you so much for reporting back! I am so glad you had an awesome run today and that you were able to enjoy it. Best of luck in your upcoming marathon.

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I loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! One thing I’ve learned from running is things that hurt usually end up being beneficial to me. I’m not talking the injury kind of hurt but the hurt that comes from working hard and pushing my limits.

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I absolutely love this blog post! I am a runner myself I am not in competition much. I am running my first marathon in December and I am so excited to see the accomplishment that comes from running this race.

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Love this post!

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NEEDED to see this today!!! Thank you!! xo

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