I’ve loved running for a while now. And to be honest – I just love working out – the challenge that it can be. I seems that I’ve always naturally been good at running too (&&& saying that makes me want to cringeeee – I never like saying that I might actually be good at something out loud…its weird). Whether it was running the mile all throughout elementary school, to pushing myself in middle school to earn the “6-minute mile” t-shirt and then the “5-minute mile” t-shirt, or being at the top when I would have to do 5 am dryland practices when I swam – God has blessed me with running genes. I am not too good at anything sprint though so that means I love good long distance running.

Since I stopped swimming back in 2014, I’ve rediscovered a love and appreciation for running; especially these past two years of college when working out is all out of my own drive, desire, and motivation. I’ve been running a few times a week and since the fall, I started “treating” myself Friday mornings with runs at the beach (& then coffee after of course).

There is something special about running down at the beach at 6:30 am: the air, the ocean, the smell, the people, and the quiet self-reflection. I’m learning five simple lessons from these morning runs and I thought they would be fun to share because they can apply to life in general!

#1: Stay true to yourself.

I’m learning this lesson over and over – especially since Jessie earned her wings – but it’s not always an easy one to follow. I’m a quirky person and can list many things that are funny & strange about myself, but they make me who I am and I wouldn’t change them for the world. One of those things is that I get up at 5:45 am daily to workout, and on Fridays, when I don’t have school or work or anything to be up for, I’m still up at that time to go drive a half hour for an hour run at the beach. So many people think I’m crazy and give me a hard time for it, but I wouldn’t want it differently! Something about waking up to the sun coming up, cooler misty morning air, free beach parking, a not too crowded running trail, getting a good sweat in, and then treating myself to an almond milk latte before 8 am just works for me! So I encourage you to recognize those especially unique things you do and traits you have – the ones you can’t imagine losing – and embrace them! Each one makes you the beautiful (& handsome) soul you are. I would love to hear what yours are, because I love stories and hearing what makes others unique!

#2: Don’t sweat the small stuff

*Not like literally because you should see the sweaty mess I am post run. More like “don’t take yourself too seriously!

I really want to get better at this and it is so hard for me. I am working on all my thoughts swirling around this topic because I know I have to do a full post about it. It always comes back to grace though. When I run, I’m competitive with not only myself, but I’m also totally the person who creates competition with those who are running around me. I try to push myself harder and run the next mile even faster. I try to pass one person and then the next and then the person ahead of them. And heaven forbid I ever get passed by someone else while I’m running…

But in reality, who does it affect if another person passes me? It does not suddenly make all the effort I’ve put into my run useless and it does not mean that I’m not a fast runner. I will think these things though! But in reality, everything is ok and I should give myself grace because in the big picture: IT DOESN’T MATTER. It is small and insignificant compared to what really matters and what God is doing with my life. So I’m working on this one and it carries over into all aspects of my life. I’m giving myself grace and starting small and simple – with these runs at the beach.

#3: Stay humble.

There is beauty in quiet confidence. I’m not a fan at all of cockiness and people who are outwardly overconfident or put others down by always having to talk about how they are better. In the words of Kendrick Lamar…sit down, stay humble. This may seem like a strange lesson to get from running at the beach, and to be fully honest, I do not know 100% why I feel like I should include this one or why it seems that the beach teaches me it. There is a grounding aspect to running by and just being at the beach. When all the outside noise of competition, trying to prove oneself, and showing off so we look better than the one next to us is stripped away and quieted, you come back to the core. You can see the gifts you bring to the table. I believe these gifts should be celebrated and praised, no doubt!! There is a way to celebrate though.

Think about the ocean. There is so much power in the ocean; overwhelming strength both positive and destructive. The ocean cannot boast about the power it has, yet somehow we all know it is there – ever present. You respect the ocean and there is abundant beauty in it. God shows us the power and beauty. All of our God given gifts are given for sharing (and totally celebrated because God would – and does – celebrate!). I believe everyone will notice without having to show it off though, when we practice humility.

#4: Find beauty around you.

I started briefly talking about beauty in #3, but this time it’s all about the beauty in the places we live and the people we meet, as well as the experiences we share. I will be the very first to admit I take living in Southern California, 30 minutes from the beach 100% for granted. My family is blessed and grateful to live here, I know we don’t see it daily though. I like how running weekly at the beach stops me for long enough to truly see what is in front of me. I get going in the day-to-day mundane tasks too quickly and I very often miss what is right here. Beauty isn’t just at the beach, seeing the waves crash and smelling salty air. Beauty is in the little things too, in the simple & the daily if we allow ourselves to see it. You may think I’m being all hippy and too rosy over here but these are five things I found beauty in today:

  1. My alarm went off, and today was a new day that started with taking time to try making a new yummy smoothie
  2. Making a cup of coffee, giving myself enough time to enjoy it
  3. Bright sunlight streaming in through my sunroof
  4. Encouragement from and conversations with a complete stranger
  5. Sitting to eat a meal as a family, together

I find when I try to be more cognizant, I am more grateful. Not that each day is peaches and cream, but I carry a more grateful heart.

#5: A smile goes a long way.

I’ve definitely saved my favorite for last. I love to smile, and it is pretty easy to make me smile and laugh. I also love it when you can put a real and genuine smile on someone else’s face! I try to smile and say “good morning” to each person I pass while running. Some people don’t respond, some do, bit it doesn’t make me want to stop. I 100% believe in the phrase ‘a smile goes a long way’. You truly never know how a simple smile will change someone. Maybe it is just what they need. Maybe it will start their day off on the right foot. Maybe they were already happy and your smile gave them a reason to show it so now they are going to smile at someone else. Also – who doesn’t like a smiling face?! I’m going to think you’re crazy if you say no to that statement. It always makes my day if someone smiles at me, and when I can do something small to get another person to smile, it is icing on the cake!

Now go out & enjoy your Friday! Live today trying to be fully YOU & please smile in the process!!

X & O,

shaya