I consider myself new to the sport of running, although, in fact, I’ve been “running” for ages. I’ve teetered on the edge of my new life for years, picking up running sporadically to stay in shape or feel fit, and then falling out again. Since making running an integral part of my day, I’ve reaped many, if not all, of the proposed benefits. I can attest to better health, more energy, weight loss, great mood, clear thinking and the euphoria that comes from a good run.
I actually hadn’t planned to change my life at all, but as hindsight goes, I can see that it was gradual. Here are the five small habits that changed my “running” life.
Mixing It Up – There are as many ways to run as there are reasons to, so find the one that speaks to you. If anyone states that running is boring, they may not understand just how diverse it can be. There are hashes, running groups, races of varying lengths, trail runs, solitary running, running with a friend, running to be a tourist, running with music and running without. And within these broad groups lie even more variations; in trail running for example, there is vertical running, ultra distance, short distance, city trail, mountain marathons, and just running through the wild. Dabbling in each form of running allows for limitless combinations and a routine that never dulls.
Choosing to Run– There’s nothing more daunting than a chore you don’t want to do. So lace up, get dressed, and run, if you aren’t enjoying it in 15 minutes than stop! But as you start to run, your body climbs out of resting state, into anaerobic state (anaerobic literally means “living without air”), and finally into the aerobic state, where you comfortably glide along. Getting out the door is how 5k runs become 6, or 6 intervals become 7. Set your expectations within easy reach and you are sure to not to disappoint. (https://runneracademy.com/first-2-miles-the-worst-miles/)
Setting Aside the Time– It’s important to get into a daily running routine, but even more importantly, is building excitement about running. My favorite places to work up a sweat, are not always accessible. So, one day a weekend, I plan my day around my run and not the other way around. During lulls at work, I can feel my anticipation welling up, to get out of the city, breathe the fresh air, and discover or rediscover a place using only my body to propel me.
Routinely Stretching – There are so many ways to stretch. We can stretch our muscles, our endurance, our speed, our goals and ultimately who we are as people. Routinely stretching has brought much to my running and to my life. It is the gentle act of routinely pushing against our outer limits, until they expand and then pushing again. Interval training, hill sprints, long runs, and stretching, encourage improvements and reward efforts, so don’t just run, stretch too.
Simplifying – I ran before, but not like I do now. I’ve cut out the treadmill, the headphones, my expectations and the fast-food. Without these distractions, I am free to enjoy what is found at the heart of running, which is, of course, myself. Listening to my own consistent footfalls and rhythmic breathing, my mind wanders, but ultimately settles, with clarity, on the things that matter most.
“Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Amber Lane is an avid runner and the author of the blog, taipeirunning.com. Her favorite post-run smoothie includes 2 frozen bananas, a spoonful of all natural peanut butter, a dash of salt, coconut milk, all blended together with, of course, chia seeds.