50 Life Lessons Learned on the Run

Lessons Dorothy Beal has learned while running to inspire you to keep going mile after mile, year after year.

As a 47-time marathon finisher, it’s easy to mistakenly believe that I have been a runner my entire life, but nothing could be further from the truth. My first year in high school I faked hyperventilating on the soccer field to get out of running laps—running was the worst. In college, after hitting a low point I revisited the idea of running only because I thought it was the fastest way to lose weight. I stuck with it, mostly because I felt better after I finished a run, even if I didn’t enjoy it while I was doing it. It still felt like the worst, however, the more I ran, the more confidence I had in myself; something I desperately wanted.

The summer before my senior year I worked my way up to double-digit runs and trained for and completed my first half marathon. The running bug hadn’t bitten me yet, but I was determined to become the person I desperately wanted to be. Shortly after I graduated, in a post-collegiate funk, I decided to train for a marathon after being told running one would change my life. I didn’t believe that but I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Months later I crossed the finish line of my first marathon and was immediately changed. I’ve been running ever since.

Not unlike most relationships, there are peaks and valleys—years where I have run no races and years where I have completed 6 marathons—but the deep, unending love for the sport remains year after year. Running has taught me more about myself and about life than most other things. I hope some of the little lessons I’ve learned along the way inspire you to keep going mile after mile, year after year. Running can change your life—let it!

Life Lessons I’ve Learned on the Run

  1. The first step is often the hardest.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. A runner is someone who runs.
  4. When in doubt run it out.
  5. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to your best friend.
  6. Regret doesn’t move you forward.
  7. Vulnerability doesn’t make you weak.
  8. Take chances.
  9. Let yourself be happy.
  10. Be true to you.
  11. You can compete without comparing.
  12. Friends are the family you choose.
  13. If you want a different life, live differently.
  14. It’s okay to be scared.
  15. Taking breaks isn’t a sign of weakness.
  16. Friends make life more meaningful.
  17. Breakthroughs happen.
  18. Life will, at some point, chew you up and spit you out. That’s okay. Bounce back.
  19. Empower yourself.
  20. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  21. Running can change your life—let it.
  22. Find someone who makes you feel like home is wherever you are with them.
  23. The running, the races, the people, the places – that’s what matters most, not the time on the clock.
  24. Your body is like a plant, it needs water to live.
  25. At the end of a long, winding road, you often get to a beautiful place.
  26. Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals.
  27. When you say sorry, mean it.
  28. It’s okay to cry.
  29. It’s not okay to give up, but it is okay to DNF.
  30. Move past your comfort zone.
  31. Less is often more.
  32. Lift weights if you can.
  33. Your body is a miracle.
  34. Don’t judge yourself by the size of your jeans.
  35. If you run, you have a runner’s body.
  36. You will never regret taking the high road.
  37. Care less about what others think of you.
  38. Make choices that bring you closer to who you want to be.
  39. The miles refine you.
  40. Run a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge the road they chose to take.
  41. Sometimes things are hard because hard is exactly what you need.
  42. Intrinsic motivation lasts longer.
  43. Follow your own path.
  44. Love your body regardless.
  45. You rarely ever get to a point where you can’t take just one more step.
  46. Running is about so much more than just running.
  47. Don’t write your story before you have lived it.
  48. Wear comfortable shoes.
  49. You are capable of so much more than you believe you are.
  50. Life is short. Dream Big Run Long.

Click here to read more from Dorothy Beal — Runkeeper Head of Content, Guided Workouts. You can also follow her on Twitter.