How Running Is Making Me A Stronger Person

If you read my post from last Friday, you know I had a tough weekend.  My grandfather died last Wednesday after a 7 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease.   I’m not even a super religious person, but I have no doubt that my grandfather is running around in heaven right now and talking up a storm, which are two things he struggled with at the end of his life.  I know his death brought him release from his pain and I’m grateful for that.  But watching my family suffer last week was something that I was not prepared for, and I woke up each day worried for my grandma, aunts, and especially my dad.

dad and pop popMy grandpa and my dad from back in the day.  They were so close!

As the funeral day drew closer, I realized that I was scared to go through it.  I knew it was going to be such a long, sad day filled with so many tears and difficult moments, and I just wanted to skip all the pain and get to the end where we could move on and celebrate my grandfather’s life.  As I went to bed on Friday night I came to the shocking realization that I had the same nervous butterflies and dread that I get the night before a race.  If you’ve never read one of my race recaps, I’ll let you know right now that I get extremely nervous before races and start worrying about every little thing that could go wrong.  I obsess and worry until the race starts, and then I push myself through the pain of running until I’ve reached the finish line.  Don’t get me wrong – I love running and I love races, but you’ve got to admit that pushing yourself to run fast hurts!  So when I felt that familiar dread the night before the funeral, I did what I always do before a race:  I take a deep breath and tell myself that it is going to hurt at certain points, but I’m going to get through it.


I don’t want to compare a funeral to a race, so let me make that very clear.  I think I just knew that I would be in so much pain and I had to get through it somehow.  I’m not going to go into the sad details here, but the funeral was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through and I probably used about 30 tissues by the end of it.  But once I had changed out of my black clothes and arrived at our big family dinner that night, I was feeling much better.  Sure I was tired, my eyes hurt from crying, and I felt so drained – but I had survived the pain and was surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins who could share funny stories about my grandpa and make me laugh again.  The pain of the funeral is slowly fading and I’m feeling like I’m on the way to recovery (although it’s a shame there’s no foam roller that can make your heart feel better faster!).  So if you’re reading this and you’re suffering, remember this fact:  you are a runner, and it’s making you a stronger person.  Why?

  • You are used to pushing yourself through difficult feelings like pain, self doubt, and fear.  You do it on long runs for hours, and sometimes you do it on really tough short runs too.  You’re practically a professional at dealing with pain on a regular basis!
  • You know how to distract yourself when you’re struggling.  How else could you push through difficult long runs, or keep running for hours?
  • You know how to set goals and create plans to reach them.  Even if your goal is simply getting through one tough day of running, you still know how to prepare yourself for getting through it!
  • You understand the importance of recovery.  After putting your body through difficult things, you know that you need to rest, refuel, and recharge.
  • You know when to take rest days.  You can’t work your body constantly and you know that, so you schedule time for stretching and relaxing so that you can wake up the next day and feel stronger than ever.

All of those things can apply to difficult life situations as well.  Runners are sometimes called crazy, but I think they’re just preparing their bodies and minds to take on difficult obstacles in life as well as on the road.  So next time you feel like you can’t handle something, remember that you’re a a runner!  You run 13.1 miles for fun before most people even finish breakfast!  You’re a stronger person because you run.

20140318-012433.jpgMy grandpa in high school (back in the 40s!) being a badass on the football field.  Totally inspiring!

Do you think running or your workout of choice makes you a stronger person?  Does running help you cope with difficult times?

20 thoughts on “How Running Is Making Me A Stronger Person

  1. I definitely think running had made me stronger, especially with this winter. I can’t even believe some of the conditions I ran through this winter! My thoughts and prayers are still with your family. Things will get better in time, I promise.

    1. So true about the winter running! Running in deep snow has definitely given me confidence to do anything! And thanks again for your thoughts. I’m already starting to feel better (although today was the 1 week anniversary and my schedule was the same as last week so it triggered some bad feelings). This warmer weather we’re getting should help!

  2. I think running has just changed my approach to tough times. I can manage my emotions and reactions a bit more carefully. Like with a race or a long run, I get in there and do what I need to do…and when I am done and everything is squared away, then I can let go and enjoy the success or feel the pain. This essentially kept me going during my grandpa’s week in palliative care before he died.

    I am finally back to feeling good running. It took a week, but it is finally back–though part of it is probably because I am eating again. I’m still trying to be kind to myself though, and take a night off here or there if I don’t feel like hopping on that treadmill.

    My thoughts are still with you and I hope that, perhaps, our grandfathers are hanging out, talking about their granddaughters who run and blog. Much love to you and your family during this sad time.

    1. So true – it’s like we can separate our feelings from our minds (if that makes sense?). Running is so mental! I’m glad you’re starting to feel better and get back into running again, I think that will help both of us. And your comment about our grandfathers talking about us in heaven totally made me cry! I hope you and your family are feeling better ❤

      1. I agree–the running and some time will help in healing. Thank goodness we are both able to run! Hope everyone in your family is doing well, too. My family is slowly but surely getting better with time. *hugs*

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. However, I’m glad you’re able to take this positive outlook on it. Runners are positive people in general and I agree it helps us be stronger people. I’ve hot rough patches in my life as well and every time I would go out for a run, I’d come back a little bit better and. Little closer to being healed. Stay strong my fellow blogger. I wish you the best and stay strong!

    1. So true! Running got me through a crazy time at work last fall (that was a whole other post) and it’s been helping me now as well. It’s so crazy how that works!

    1. Thank you. It was hard to write but I know that running has definitely helped me get through this. I’m glad to be feeling normal again this week!

  4. My condolences to you and your family. I think any kind of consistent activity gives us the strength and confidence that helps get us though hard times.

    1. Thank you. I definitely agree, I did more Barre3 than running in the past week and just the stretching that we did during class really helped me feel better.

  5. I’m really sorry to hear about your loss. However, I am incredibly inspired by the honesty of this post. It’s awesome that running has taught you a thing or two about enduring difficult times with grace and attention to what is important in life. Keep moving forward – my thoughts are with you.

  6. Love this post and I couldn’t agree more that running toughness transfers over to other areas of life. Pushing through pain is what we do!

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandpa – losing someone you love is never easy 😦

    1. Thanks. It’s been hard but I’m starting to feel better. It was just one of those times where I was so happy to be a runner!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s