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.
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.
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?
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.