10 Powerful Lessons Learned from my 10 Years of Running

It’s almost hard to believe that 10 years ago I headed out for my very first run and made it one block! Fast forward to today and I’ve completed 20 full marathons, logged over 1,000 miles in 2016, and have radically changed my life! Here are 10 powerful lessons I’ve learned in my 10 years of running.

Listen to “10 Powerful Lessons Learned From My 10 Years of Running” read aloud by the author.

Lesson One: Start Where You Are

On March 6th, 2011 I stood on the sidelines of my very first marathon to cheer on some of my friends who were running the Lala Marathon. As I stood on the sidelines of the race at mile 23, I was astounded by what I witnessed! Runners of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities ran passed me one after the other, doing what seemed to be impossible!

I was so inspired by what I saw that I began to think, “Why not me?”

Up until this point, I had the limiting belief that, “This body doesn’t run.” I would often say this to my family, my friends, and anyone else who would listen. I finally decided, no more!

On March 27th, 2011 I headed out for my very first run and made it one block until I felt as though I was going to die! I could have given up in that moment, but I didn’t. I told myself that I would start where I was.

Day by day, I added one block on to my route until I was able to run 17 miles straight during the 2012 Lala Marathon. (Read more about my first marathon here.)

Lesson Two: Runners Come in All Sizes

Do not be mistaken to think that to be a “runner”, you must be a particular size or weight. When I started my running journey, I had already lost 35 pounds, but I still had more weight to lose.

Through marathon training, I lost an additional 25 pounds for a total weight loss of 60 pounds! Have I maintained this 60 pound weight loss throughout my whole 10 years of running? No.

In 2019, I ran several marathons after giving birth to my first child, including the OC Marathon. I certainly was not in peak physical condition during these races in 2019!

The beauty of running is that you can be a runner at any pace and at any size!

Lesson Three: Running Can Be Fun

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever exclaim, “I love to run!” Running, however, can be fun and enjoyable when you start where you are, listen to your body, laugh often, and find your running tribe.

When I first started running, I had a group of about 3 – 5 ladies who I regularly met up with for races and training runs. To be able to have some friends to chat with while running, to commiserate with during the pain, and to celebrate with post runs was so much fun!

There are several ways to get plugged in to an in-person or virtual running community. Check with your local running speciality store for training groups, get connected online through social outlets such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and check out local running groups such as Moms Run This Town.

Lesson Four: Marathons are Tough, But Also Exhilarating

Prior to toeing the line of the Lala Marathon in 2012, the furthest I had run during training was 18 miles. I had no idea what to expect during miles 18 – 26.2 of the marathon. Quickly, I learned what is infamously called “the pain cave”.

At about mile 21, I seriously began questioning why I was putting myself through such torture! My body hurt, my feet were tired, and I just wanted to sit down for a moment. All of these negative thoughts began swirling through my mind. You see, a marathon is just as much a test of mental endurance as it is of physical endurance.

A marathon is just as much a test of mental endurance as it is of physical endurance.

In these difficult moments, I told myself, “One step at a time.” This is the mantra I use to this day both in training runs and races. One step at a time you will reach the finish line!

And I did just that… I made it to the finish line! With hands raised victoriously, I basked in the victory that I was a marathoner! Quickly I learned that marathons are tough, but also exhilarating!

Marathons are tough, but also exhilarating

Lesson Five: I Love Races

My first ever race was a sprint triathlon in the summer of 2011. This race was so much fun, that I knew I wanted to run more races.

Since that first race in 2011, I have run hundreds of races! In 2016 alone, I ran 29 races!

What I love most about races are the people I get to meet. Some of my biggest cheerleaders are fellow runners I have met in the online running space and/or at races!

I also enjoy unique race experiences such as mud runs, color runs, Spartan races, and/or races in which I get to dress up in costume! I have ran a half marathon dressed as a Spice Girl, a full marathon with a Christmas Tree headband on, and a 5k with a lucha libre mask on!

Basically, I love races and having fun!

Lesson Six: I Can Do Hard Things

In 2008, I walked away from an abusive marriage where I was beat down and made to feel lower than low. I had very little self belief in myself and my ability to do hard things.

While married to my ex husband, he tried to get me to run by shaming me and telling me things such as, “It’s easy! Why can’t you do it?” Clearly, this approach did nothing to encourage me to find my passion for running.

With every new distance accomplished while training in 2011 and 2012, I was slowly gaining back my self confidence and my belief in myself.

Training for my first marathon and crossing that finish line proved to me that I can do hard things!

Lesson Seven: I Enjoy Pain

Throughout your running journey, there’s bound to be pain. You’ll have sore muscles, you’ll lose a few toenails, you may experience some chafing, and you may at some point get injured. It’s through this pain, however, that we experience the most growth.

Since crossing my first marathon in 2012, I have run a total of 20 full marathons. What I’ve learned through this last decade of running is that I enjoy pain.

Lesson Eight: I Am a Runner

I’m not sure at what point I finally believed that I was a runner. I do, however, remember that for Christmas 2011, my brother gifted me my very first Garmin running watch. It was a Garmin Forerunner 405CX. I recall thinking to myself, “Does this now make me a runner?”

I ended up using this Garmin watch until I replaced it with a Garmin Forerunner 235 in December of 2016 and now I have a Garmin Vivoactive 4s.

Truth be told, however, that Garmin or not, the moment that I first began running was when I became a runner. Repeat after me, “I am a runner!” (Click here to watch a video of “How to Tell If You’re a Runner“.)

How to tell if you're a runner

Lesson Nine: I Found Me

After my divorce in 2008, I was so lost. I was in my twenties, recovering from an abusive marriage, and asking myself, “Who am I?”

This quest of trying to discover who I was sent me literally around the world! I lived in China for a year, Honduras for four months, and Mexico for two years. Although I made incredible memories while living, teaching, and traveling abroad, it wasn’t until I found running that I truly began to heal and rediscover who I was.

My social handle and the title of my website “Run Strong Run” mean so much to me because it was through this time of healing and rediscovery of myself that the name was born. (Read more about where “Run Strong Run” came from here.)

Through running, I found me.

Lesson Ten: Anyone Can Be a Runner

If you would have told me 10 years ago, as I stood on the sidelines of my first marathon that I’d soon be a marathon maniac, I would have laughed in your face! How could I ever be a runner? Did I have a runner’s body. Where would I start? What did I need to begin running?

It’s now my mission to tell you that anyone can be a runner! You don’t need to be a certain size, run a certain pace, nor buy expensive gear. You CAN be a runner!

Grab your FREE Beginner’s Running Guide below for the six simple steps I implemented to take me from zero to 26.2 miles in less than a year!

Love Stephanie of runstrongrun.com
10 Powerful Lessons Learned From My 10 Years of Running

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