How Running Builds Character

Run­ning is not for the weak-willed. That’s not real­ly news to any­one though, is it? Yet what makes run­ning so appeal­ing to such a diverse group of peo­ple is that you don’t have to be men­tal­ly tough to start. Run­ning will nat­u­ral­ly build that perseverance.

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Gump­tion: shrewd or spir­it­ed ini­tia­tive and resource­ful­ness. Just mak­ing the deci­sion to head down the dusty trail and start call­ing your­self a run­ner takes gump­tion. There are many stereo­types and expec­ta­tions that have been assigned to any­one dubbed a ‘run­ner’. If you’re going to call your­self a run­ner, you have com­mit­ted to actu­al­ly get­ting out there and run­ning a few days a week. This is not too hard the first week when you’re still excit­ed about the new hob­by. But just wait for the next sev­er­al weeks. It becomes hard­er when the nov­el­ty has worn off and you’re sore and tired. If you stick it out though, you will build that gumption.

Ded­i­ca­tion: The qual­i­ty of being com­mit­ted to a pur­pose. The word ‘ded­i­cat­ed’ gets thrown around a lot, but ath­letes tend to under­stand it in its entire­ty more than the aver­age per­son. Train­ing for a marathon, which takes months to years depend­ing on your start­ing fit­ness, will leave you with no doubt about what ded­i­ca­tion means. If you skip a prac­tice, your body will remind you lat­er – and that reminder will prob­a­bly hurt.

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Endurance: The pow­er of with­stand­ing an unpleas­ant or dif­fi­cult process with­out giv­ing way. Run­ning obvi­ous­ly involves a great deal of phys­i­cal endurance. Our bod­ies have lim­its, but run­ners know there are often ways to press those phys­i­cal lim­its a bit fur­ther through endurance. Endurance is also a men­tal attribute. Whether you’re on a 5‑mile loop, an 18-mile train­ing run, or mile 23 of a marathon, you’re going to hit a point where you’re utter­ly exhaust­ed and the only options are to quit (which is not real­ly an option. Every­one knows that.) or keep going. Most run­ners keep going. Run­ning, walk­ing, crawling…it doesn’t mat­ter; for­ward pro­jec­tion is the bot­tom line. That is endurance.

Goal Set­ting: A goal is the des­ti­na­tion of a jour­ney. Goal set­ting is lay­ing out the path that will get you there. Run­ning involves con­stant goal set­ting. Some­times the goals are sim­ple: just get out the door and start jog­ging; make it to the cor­ner before slow­ing down; add half a mile to your long run this week. Oth­er times, the goals are huge: train for your first half marathon; run your first 16-mile train­ing run; com­plete your first full marathon. Goal set­ting is an essen­tial life skill that helps peo­ple build real­is­tic paths towards goals that may seem too far off oth­er­wise. How won­der­ful is it that you can nat­u­ral­ly acquire this skill by stay­ing active and hav­ing fun?

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Con­fi­dence: The feel­ing or belief that one can rely on some­one or some­thing. Every time a run is com­plet­ed, whether it’s a train­ing run or a race, there is a feel­ing of accom­plish­ment award­ed to the run­ner. This feel­ing is large­ly what keeps peo­ple in this sport.

Run­ning is already wide­ly rec­og­nized as a great way to exer­cise your body and keep it healthy. It does a lot more than that, how­ev­er. Run­ning also exer­cis­es your mind, spir­it, and resolve. It builds char­ac­ter through its nat­ur­al chal­lenges and leads you to uncov­er qual­i­ties about your­self that will help you in many oth­er walks.