10 Life Lessons Learned Through Endurance Sports

August 09,2016

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise have long been researched, studied, and documented. But, have you ever considered the valuable benefits that can’t be documented? The benefits that impact other foundational parts of being a human being, beyond physiological strength and the chemical structure in our brains. Perseverance, confidence, patience, how we push through adversity – these are the non-tangible strengths, the evidence that build you into a better human being, and help you live a better life.

The physical and mental health benefits of exercise have long been researched, studied, and documented. But, have you ever considered the valuable benefits that can’t be documented? The benefits that impact other foundational parts of being a human being, beyond physiological strength and the chemical structure in our brains. Perseverance, confidence, patience, how we push through adversity – these are the non-tangible strengths, the evidence that build you into a better human being, and help you live a better life.

I have to admit, I didn’t do much reflection about it early on. I had no idea what was in store for me when I began my journey as an endurance athlete. But, with each and every race and training session, I grew more and more aware of how some of the fundamental values of endurance sports spill over into each and every part of my life. In fact, I didn’t even have to take time to reflect. It became clear in my everyday life – the same skills I use to endure my sport, I use to endure day to day life as well.  

Here are my 10 life lessons I have learned from being an endurance sport athlete:

  1. You are Limitless:

    It wasn’t until I was in a true test of physical and mental strength that I began to understand what it’s like to push your limits. Endurance sports have the amazing ability to teach us how far we can go and how much pain we can endure before giving up or continuing on. The human mind will give up far earlier than the body will. I’ve learned to keep going just a little longer when I feel like I’ve reached a limit. And you know, it’s always worked. There is always room for growth.

  2. Expect the Unexpected:

    Anything can happen in a 26 mile run or a 140 mile Ironman. How you handle it and react to the unexpected determines the ultimate outcome. As an athlete, we must be prepared to expect things won’t always go as planned. And it’s okay, because it has to be. Life is filled with unpredictability, and just because things aren’t going as planned, it doesn’t mean it’s all over.

  3. Embrace Challenge:

    At some point, we are all faced with something we don’t want to do or don’t feel confident in. There’s no denying that endurance sports are incredibly challenging. As an athlete, you are asked to push the limits of what you once thought wasn’t possible over and over again. Accepting and embracing a challenge with an open mind rather than an attitude of preconceived failure will take you farther in all areas of life. Encountering a challenge is an opportunity for growth and knowledge.

  4. Focus On The Journey:

    In a race, the finish line can feel like an entire planet away. The distance can be discouraging, but the race isn’t always just about the finish.  It’s the journey within the start and finish that shapes and molds  us. The final result is a milestone of everything gained and learned along the way. Having this perspective has not only helped me pace what I have to conquer in a race, but also pace life and enjoy my journey to my goals and dreams.

  5. Embrace Your Crew:

     Almost everything that you have accomplished has not been done alone. I tell people all the time that completing an Ironman takes a village. You need people to support you, encourage you, and praise you. Without them, accomplishing your goals can be so much more difficult. Finding these kinds of people can be rare. When you find them, let them be a part of your success.

  6. Always Assess and Reassess:

    High performers and achievers are the ones that work off of a clear goal they set with a timeline that’s manageable. They consistently reevaluate how it’s going, and then improve it if needed. As an endurance athlete I do this on a regular basis. I’ve found this method to be helpful in not only achieving my athletic goals, but goals in other areas of my life as well.

  7. Have Courage:

    Sometimes we need the courage and strength to set a stretch goal or something that seems unattainable. The beginning is always hard and out of our comfort zone, but that rewarding feeling at the end is always worth it. I never would have thought I could have completed many things that I have accomplished, both personally and professionally. The first step was scary, but it always worked out.  

  8. Stay Humble: 

    When your hard work has paid off and dreams and goals become reality, it’s important to stay humble. And when you can, help someone else who was once in your shoes. I make it a point to take time to help someone who is where I once was, trying to reach my goals. Putting good energy out in the world always brings it back to you!

  9. Take Care of Yourself:

    This includes your body, mind, and heart. We only have one body, so fuel it right and take care of it every chance you get. Investing in yourself will always be the best thing you invest your time and energy into.

  10. Attitude is Everything:

    Our attitudes can be helpful or hurtful. It’s important to pay attention to your attitude and how it translates into what you are doing and how others see it. Positivity will lead to success, every time!

In both life and endurance sports, things take time, passion and persistence. Endurance sports are not just a physical challenge, but one that challenges your dedication, will and aspirations. They have the incredible ability to change your lifestyle, mindset, and character. And most importantly, you are shown that YOU have power to make any dream a reality. Life is full of tests, but you are the one who decides how to handle it.

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