Mar 8, 2019
Finding your calling in life is wonderful. When you have a burning inside you that powers your actions, no amount of adversity can stop or discourage you. You know why you do what you do, and your success and fulfillment don’t stem from the results of your effort, they come from your effort alone.
For some people, a life calling comes naturally, often at a very young age. For others, it takes years of searching and work till they discover what makes them excited to jump out of bed each morning.
Us runners? We also all have a running calling. Something that fuels our reason for running. A natural ability, an appreciation for the body, a desire to stay healthy, or an aspiration to break records can all be reasons to run. Maybe you are battling cancer, maybe you lost someone to cancer, maybe you run simply to work off some stress. Whatever it is, it’s yours.
Today we interviewed Ryan Hall on the Running for Real podcast. Ryan holds the record for the U.S. half marathon and once completed seven marathons, on all seven continents, in seven days. Yes, you read that correctly. Ryan knows how it feels to find a calling in life and in running. Listen or read along to see what you can learn about your calling and how that can propel you to do great things.
Learning about yourself is a funny concept. We are the only people we are around 24/7, and yet often times, coaches, parents, or mentors know things about us we don’t know about ourselves. For Ryan, learning about himself helped him to know that running was something he wanted to do from the first time he went on a run.
It can be difficult to decide which interests are life callings, and which are just interests. Knowing when to give something up or when to work through difficulty takes practice. Ryan says, “The more you know yourself, the easier it is to act on these different ideas or inspirations.” Take time to explore a variety of ideas and ponder which ones speak to your heart.
Also take time to think about why you run. When you think back to the first time you ran, or the first run you enjoyed, was there something bigger attached to that run? Something that you can always lean on when your next run seems pointless or too hard? Finding a deeper meaning will help you stay strong and committed.
Learning about your body can be as important as learning about yourself. A healthy body will allow you to perform to the best of your ability. Whether you are working to solve a social issue, running your own business, or training for your hometown 10K, it is important to listen to your body.
Ryan gives two suggestions from having been a professional athlete when it comes to listening to your body. The first is rest. Make sure to prioritize rest. The only way to perform at a high level is to push yourself and then allow your body to adapt to that level. Adaptation cannot come without proper rest. Again, make it a priority.
Another critical aspect of body performance is proper fueling. Especially in the long-distance realm, getting down to a certain weight is a popular way to try to conserve energy. Avoid this trend. Your body knows best, and whatever weight it settles at, be comfortable with it. Focus on your performance, eat when you are hungry, and your body will figure out the optimal weight for you.
There will be times when life throws you a curveball. Unexpected events are normal, so don’t let them take you off your path. “You want to be like Bamboo,” says Ryan referencing an ancient Samurai adage, “You bend but you don’t break.” Set goals for yourself, but be flexible. If you accept that there are many ways to reach your objectives, then you won’t be disturbed by changes you may need to make.
Ryan was on a trajectory to become a great baseball player when he found running. Now that his professional running career is over, he has taken up weight lifting. With each transition Ryan finds a common thread that connects his current focus to his personality. For him, it’s all about taking on a new challenge. What is it for you?
Last of all, wherever you find yourself on your journey, it is important to praise others. As you do so you will find support from others, and the temptation to compare your journey to theirs will fade away.
We are all on this journey together. Running can be a very individual sport, but it’s much more enjoyable when you have friends, teammates, coaches, and even competitors that you can share this experience with. We may all have different running callings, but we all have one.
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Thank you to Ryan, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.