The first thing that most people say when they find out I'm a runner is either "I hate running." Some people even say, "What?? You ran 10 miles today?? Are you crazy??" And to that I respond: maybe, who knows?

The truth is, I hated running at first too. It wasn't like I was a natural runner. I didn't just one day decide I wanted to be a runner and then the next day, I ran 20 miles. No, I started running with my mom in the fourth and fifth grade, and I absolutely hated it. My lungs burned and my legs hurt after one mile for weeks. But now, almost 13 years later, I still enjoy running, and I ran my first marathon last year. The following are the ten things that I learned through my journey as a long-distance runner.

1. Being a runner isn't easy, unless you are Forrest Gump.

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I was by no means like Forrest Gump in which I started running one day, and then I never stopped. It took weeks, months, years, for me to feel like I could run more than 3-4 miles without passing out. As they say, practice makes perfect. Running taught me that if you persevere with something, then you will most likely be able to succeed in the end.

2. As a runner, sometimes you have your good days and other times you have your bad days.

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Sometimes I feel like I could run mile after mile, and I would never get tired. These days my feet feel like they are running on air, and I feel fly free like a bird. Sometimes I feel tired after only a short run, my legs are heavy, and I don't want to take another step. Whenever I have bad days, I try to not beat myself up because sometimes your body and mind just need a break. No need in pushing yourself too hard. You got to give yourself a break from time to time.

3. Running taught me the importance of getting over the hard stuff in life. 

Let's face it. Life is hard, and it is easy to get a rut. When things go badly or not the way we planned, it is easy to become frustrated. During my years of running, I have gotten injured twice, and both times, it took a long time to recover, and I felt angry, hopeless, and frustrated. It didn't seem fair, and that's because life isn't fair. But we can't give up just because something is hard. After I was healed from my second injury, I decided I wanted to continue to run (despite my cross country coach being nervous). I enjoyed running and I didn't want two bad injuries to stop me from running forever. After months, I was finally able to run again. And by the next year, I was on the Girls' Varsity team at my high school. You can get through the hard stuff if you just don't give up.

4. Like many things in life, running takes patience and practice. 

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I didn't get super serious about running until high school. I joined my school's track team and cross country team, and it took me years before I finally was able to do longer distances. Some weeks I barely did any mileage, but slowly and surely I was able to run farther and farther. I wasn't able to do a half marathon (13 miles) until my junior year of high school. Then, by college, I was able to do three more half marathons, pretty easily. Then I decided I wanted to reach one of my big goals: running a marathon. My college friends thought I was crazy. Even I thought I was crazy. How was I supposed to run 26.2 miles? To be honest, I probably should have trained more (the most I ran before the race was about 15 miles, yikes), but somehow, I was able to complete the race (and I only cried once!! *whip* *dab*) Let me tell you, the finish line looked so good. All my hard work and patience had paid off.

5. You got to get over how other people see you, and stop comparing yourself. 

Yeah, some people are just going to be better than you at some things. In high school, I was constantly comparing myself to my teammates who were faster than me. No matter how fast I was, it was never enough, in my mind. I set the bar for myself super high, and this caused a lot of internal stress for me before my track meets and cross country races. Then if I sensed any disappointment from my teammates, my parents, or my coach about how I didn't place super high in a race, I would beat myself up about it. However, I had to learn to not worry about how other people saw me. I had to just do my best, and that had to be enough. Since coming to college, I realized that I don't have to be the best runner. Just being able to finish a run or crossing the finish line is good enough for me.

As a runner, I have learned that life has its ups and downs, but in the end, it's going to be all okay, and working hard is going to pay off in the end.