4 Ways Running is Like Life

There’s a reason runners keep running despite the crappy runs, the terrible races, the times when non-runners listen to us talk and think (or say), “Why do you love running, again?” It’s because for every crappy run, there are five great ones. For every terrible race there is one magic event where all your starts align and you just kill it. Because the suck makes us stronger. Because we’re chasing the runner’s high. Because we know that the feeling of working toward and achieving something we secretly thought might be impossible is without parallel. 

Running is the ultimate metaphor for life. We keep going through the tough times, we slog it out through the part where we feel like we’re wading rather than running in life. And sometimes it all just falls into place and we have that amazing period of time in which life is beautiful and everything is working in our favor. And of course there are specific parallels, too. Here are 4 ways running is like life.

4 Ways Running is Like Life. You get out of running what you put in. There are definite parallels to running and life in this article.

The Hard Road

No one wants to take the hard road. The easy way out is a siren call. But when you’re a runner, you know if you come to a fork in the road and one way you’ll encounter hills and tough terrain and on the other you’ll be easily running on a paved flat…Well runners are crazy and we’ll probably take the hills. But the same applies in life – taking the easy way never makes you stronger. It doesn’t challenge you, or build resilience. 

Take the harder route and you’ll finish your run a stronger runner. Take the hard route when you’re working toward something in life and you’ll gain the same in life experience.

Building Your Base

When you decide to go for a goal and sign up for a race, or have a specific goal in mind, training becomes key. And no training is three weeks long. To really attack and achieve your running goal, you’ll be training for weeks or months before the event to make sure you’re giving it all you’ve got. Taking the time to build a base makes you less prone to injury and burn out.

Likewise, no matter what you want to achieve in life, it’s hard to attack a goal without having that strong base of training. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is just non-runner speak for putting in the training before your event. Our big goals in life need to be practiced, trained and perfected, just like our running goals.

Just Get Out There

Regardless of being mindful of training and setting aside the right amount of time to train, sometimes you just have to start, get out there and run and sign up for a race. In life, if you’re waiting for the perfect moment it will probably never eventuate. There is no right time. You’ll never be in ‘perfect’ shape for anything. Just go after it. See what happens.

No Runner is an Island

Okay, sometimes a runner is an island. Running solo is good for the soul and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone for a run rather than scream or cry, or celebrate internally. But running solo and running with friends are both valuable in their own way, just like you need to balance solo time and socializing. My time running with friends has led to some amazing friendships  – there’s something about running with someone that forms a strong bond.

It’s okay to be an island sometimes in life and want to have your time on your own, but the inclusiveness of running means you probably won’t be long without some running friends or running partners. Embrace it, let it be. Enjoy that sometimes you can run and let your mind run too, or run with a friend and gain perspective and empathy and some fun as well.

How does running make you stronger?

Have you used lessons from running and applied them in real life?


  1. So much yes for the island piece especially as I gear up to begin the my 16 and 18 mile long walks prepping for the full marathon. I might might be able to do this alone? I don’t want to find out 🙂
    Carla recently posted…What *Ive* learned from summer swim team.My Profile

  2. Just getting out there is half the battle. I hate getting up in the mornings for a run but once I am finished I feel a sense of accomplishment for the day.
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness.com recently posted…Weekly Wrap…Guilt EditionMy Profile

  3. Amen, girl. *Slow clap*

    Running makes me stronger in EVERYTHING! My patience, my perseverance, my emotional well-being…everything gets stronger, not just my body.
    Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete recently posted…Executive DecisionsMy Profile


  1. […] like anything we work at and strive to do our best in, is at heart a metaphor for life. If you want something, you need to set your goal, make a plan, and work your butt off to achieve […]