Lessons Learned from Running

I’ve been running for about a decade now. There have been many lessons I’ve learned from running. I’m not a professional; I’m not an expert, and I’m certainly not a coach. Throughout my decade of running and seven years working in running specialty, I’ve learned several lessons both the easy way and the hard way.  Lately, I’ve had time to reflect on a few lessons learned from running.

lessons learned from running

Here are a few lessons learned from running:

The most important rule:

Get the right shoes.

Compared to many other sports, running is not an expensive sport.

However, your shoes will be the most expensive. The majority of people do not need inserts, nor is it necessary for a 200 dollar shoe. When being fitted, you should expect to pay between 120-150 for a pair.

For your first pair of shoes, it’s important to get a quick and painless gait analysis. This is one of the most important lessons learned from running. Almost any local running store can do it. From there, they will determine the most appropriate shoes for you. If you look for the cheapest option online, and they don’t work for you, you are not going to be running.

Lessons learned from running
There’s a shoe for that…

On the same line, there is a shoe for everyone. For example, some people can get away running in Nike Frees. 99.9% of us can’t. The biggest and most important lesson from running is to get fitted for the right shoes.

Start Easy

Before I ran, I was a swimmer. Swimming puts a lot less pressure on your bones, joints, and body in general. Collegiate swimming had us in the pool every day from 2-4 hours. If you run 4 hours daily, you would end up with multiple stress fractures and injuries. One of the most important lessons learned from running and one I learned the hard way is to start easy. You don’t need to go from zero to one hundred.

Technical Fabric:

If you can run in cotton and not chafe, this does not apply to you. One lesson learned from running the hard way was cotton is rotten, and you can and will chafe. Certain fabrics prevent blisters, chafing, and being uncomfortable. These days there are windproof jackets, jackets that light up and glow in the dark, and jackets that allow you to run in -30. None of these things you need, but if they make you happy…go for it.

So much winter technology...
So much winter technology…

Set small goals and keep a training log:

Reaching smaller goals keeps your motivation strong. If you feel as though you’ve been chasing the same larger goals for months or years…maybe it’s time to set a smaller goal. Similarly, you don’t know what is working if you aren’t recording it.  You cannot make it to the top of the mountain in one step; you have to take a series of steps. Another lesson learned from running is to stop comparing yourself to others and appreciate your own journey.

My goal ladder during my first stress fracture.
My goal ladder during my first stress fracture.

Finally: The most important! 

Everyone is a runner. I recently wrote about it here. Whether you are running 4-minute miles or running your first mile ever. You are a runner, whether you like it or not.

Runners everywhere!
Runners everywhere!

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Question for you: What are some lessons you have learned from running? 


  1. I definitely noticed the difference a quality shoe makes! I was running with some that offered no support and didn’t realize that my foot needed a lot of support! Since going to a real running store and having a professional help me find shoes, I haven’t had any running pain!

  2. I love my Brooks shoes but I prefer the Adrenaline 14’s over the 15’s. Does your running store friend know if Brooks is going to release a new brand similar to the 14 model? Thanks!

    1. The newest adrenaline should be coming out in the next few weeks. I’m not sure the specifics of fit right now though! I heard several people say the 15 was too short.

  3. I have learned that sometimes you should wear headphones, and sometimes you should just listen to your breathing and surroundings. Sometimes you should run on your own, and sometimes you should run with other people. Sometimes you should race for time or distance, and sometimes you should just race for the fun of it.

  4. Love this post! I’ve been running for a long long time, and even though I’m not the fastest I love the fact that running is big enough for everyone. I also love how you’re literally running in the footsteps of elite runners in every race that you do. I don’t think any other sport is like that so it’s pretty remarkable!

  5. Definitely all of this!! When I first started running, I was in like pajama pants, random shoes i had had for years and years, and cotton tshirts. I was all about doing the races that gave tshirts hahaha. Then… then I learned about medals. Life. Changed. 😉

    When I first was fitted for running shoes, it was at the running store I now work in! They did my whole gait analysis etc, I looked around, and asked “dang… are you guys hiring?” Yup. Started my whole motivation for marathons and ultras!

  6. Totally agree about shoes being the most important thing. When I first started running regularly, I was using my old Nike trainers that I just happened to have running around, and then I was wondering why I was hurting so much. Getting proper shoes made the biggest difference, and made the whole experience more enjoyable.

  7. Agree, agree and agree. I too have been running(again) just over 5 years. I didn’t know to start at a store like Running ETC and get them to check your running gait and point you in the right direction. I just bought some cheap asics (nothing wrong with asics) not knowing a have moderate pronation so I really needed something with stability and this pair I found out was for neutral to suppinated runners.

    Weeks later with shin splints, ITB issues, and sore knees, I was ready to quit. I had been running with some of the Striders and they pointed me to Running, Etc. I got my first pair of Saucony Omni 8s and immediately could tell the difference. 5 years and 2 marathons, and many shorter races later, I am in love with running.

    Lesson: A lesson I learned is that running (for me) is hugely a social event. I run alone throughout the week mostly, but if I get a chance to run with a group or run a race with some of my now many running friends, it makes my week. The before and after-party chit chatting is the BEST!!! Even better I have running friends of every shape, size, color, age, religion, social status, background, personality, and it is awesome. People I would have never met or had the chance to hang out with in my regular everyday life.

  8. I tend to learn a lot of weird life lessons with running. Like, if you want something you have to work for it. I never really knew the true meaning of that until I began running and really wanting something. Then you also learn that even if you work hard for something, you are still not entitled to it. Whether it’s job related or personal life related, I think being a runner has gotten me out of the mentality of thinking that I deserve something or I earned something – because sometimes, that just isn’t the case regardless of how hard you worked. Also, if you want something badly enough you will do the work and get it. My husband pointed that out to me recently when I had a bad race. He said, “You didn’t hit your goal time, but you will. Anything you’ve ever wanted badly enough with that sport you have accomplished because you want it – bad.” I think being a runner has changed me as a person. As a high school teacher and having endured a lot of crap through running, I think it’s made me less tolerant of kids telling me they “can’t” do something. Like when I teach a new skill and a kid says they “will never be able to do that”, I see it as a challenge because I know they can – if they want to. I know it almost sounds like running has made me pessimistic, but I don’t see it that way. It’s taught me how to cope with the bad, relish in the good and above all, be humble and not take things for granted. 🙂

  9. Hi Hollie! Since you’re a running gear guru, can you recommend a running rain jacket? Do you guys have one in your store this year that looks good? I’m in Austin, so the coldest it gets is 30s to 40s, but umm…I guess that is pretty cold when it’s also raining! It is supposed to rain a lot this winter, so I am trying to gear up in advance!

    1. Actually Sarah, that’s a good question. I don’t have a favorite they I love. I’ll let you know if I discover one. If it’s down-pouring rain, I normally end up running inside.

  10. This is such a lovely post, especially your last point. Most interesting thing that I’ve learnt from running is just how far you can progress no matter what your sporting background or body type is… literally all of those preconceptions have been proven to me to be totally false by the countless speedy inspirational people I have met on my running journey so far 🙂 And your point about the shoes is definitely correct – I’m just realising that myself after weeks of niggles from upping my mileage in minimalist shoes!

  11. you are so right about the shoes. you have to get fitted for the right pair…now that you ask though…have you heard of the Hoka Clifton 2 giving anyone else blisters on the side of the foot? mine give me nasty horrible blisters. i love the shoe but dang it is tearing up my foot!

  12. Love this post, Hollie! I totally agree on getting good shoes and building up your endurance and miles!

    P.S. I read your Veteran’s Day post and really, really enjoyed it. Thanks!

  13. Love this post! I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that your body is capable of much more than you mind thinks it is. Running is as much mental as it is physical, and thinking you can accomplish something is half the battle!

  14. What I learned the hard way was you have to take a day off, you have to run easy miles and not at race pace. I used to be under the impression if you weren’t out “Killing It” you weren’t a runner. Well 2 years of that has lead to 18 months of pain and injuries. After cutting my mileage, limiting my races Jm finally seeing things slowly turn around.

    1. I think all runners learn about recovery the hard way. I feel like it’s a lesson best learned the hard way.

  15. It’s definitely all about the shoes and YES, if you run you are a runner. Speed is not required.

  16. Last one is definitely most important!

    Although, my nerd tendency and extensive logs come in close second

  17. I love this 🙂 As a runner since age 12 (so – whoa getting old – 19 years now!)I would add “consistency and patience” are also key to a long and healthy running life. I learned the very hard way too!

  18. Great lessons! 🙂 love your comment about the sneakers. It’s taken me trying a few pairs to find the right ones for me, but now that I know how well they work, I’m never buying a different model. And lol, I love your small goals graphic 🙂

  19. I’ve learned that my body can do a lot more than I used to give it credit for. I’m running more miles now than I ever dreamed of. The human body is built to do incredible things!

  20. My favorite part of this is about setting small goals while working toward a larger goal, this is so important.

  21. Finally getting caught up on everything! I can’t believe how long I ran in cotton and didn’t know any better. Luckily, I never sustained any … injuries? … but working out in tech/synthetic makes such a difference. Obviously, big YES to getting the right running shoes too. 🙂

  22. I’ve learned a lot of these lessons too! Picking the right shoes is so important! That is the one thing that I will invest in no matter what. I’ve also learned how to fuel my body for successful running and that foam rolling & compression socks are my best friends 🙂

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