When it comes to running, there are certainly many things that can help you improve—dedication, natural talent, a solid training plan; but I’d argue that the most important quality to possess is patience. It’s not always easy to maintain it, especially after a bad run or race or when your goal seems so far off.
However, having patience will pay off in the long run (no pun intended!). Here’s how.
Patience to see the big picture.
It’s hard to see that picture during a 20 mile run at 6 a.m. in the cold in January when your goal race isn’t until April or later.
Patience to improve and see results.
This is one that I struggle with. I want to see results yesterday. But it doesn’t always work that way. Improvement can take time–months, years even. Don’t let impatience deter you from moving steadily towards your goal.
Patience to build mileage.
We may want to #runallthemiles but our bodies may not be up to the task yet. If you are looking to increase your daily/weekly/monthly mileage, do so gradually. Increase by a reasonable amount (~10%) for a few weeks and then let your body adapt to that mileage before adding more.
Patience in a race.
This is another aspect of running that I struggle with frequently. At the beginning of a race your well-rested legs, pre-race jitters, and the excitement of the crowd cause you to go out too fast. There is no such thing as building a time cushion for the end of the race. If you go out too fast, you will pay for it later in the race.
Patience when you have an injury.
There is always the temptation is to immediately start running the moment your body shows signs of recovery or improvement. Take an extra few days or week or two and ensure you are 100% before returning to running.
Patience after an injury.
Be wary about the inclination to jump back into the routine you were in before your injury- running the same mileage and the same pace. It will take some time to build back up to where you are.