When I first began living on my own and calculated my monthly expenses, I quickly realized that I was going to have to start choosing between my $30 gym membership and, say, food. Although I knew giving up my morning spin classes and evening BodyPump would be difficult, I was well aware that I could be getting a great workout for a fraction of the cost. And here enters my relationship with running. Like an ex-boyfriend who never truly seems to go away, I finally decided to make the commitment and find a way for Running and me to live peacefully. After all, a workout that only requires me to have sneakers (and some bags of frozen peas, TBH)?
There are moments in running that are easy to love. Namely, when it’s over. After my first race, I was easily head over heels (not literally, thankfully) for the glory and endorphins that followed 13.1 miles. But that wasn’t enough to keep me going. Why would I spend hours upon hours every week training for something I didn’t actually find enjoyable? I relished in the celebratory brunches , the congratulations from friends, the updated Facebook status that said “Look what I did!” and, of course, the medals strung across my bedroom mirror. But the act itself? Psshhh. Nevertheless, I committed to learning how running could not only be something I loved, but an activity I craved. Starting with my attitude, I no longer viewed it as a workout I had to do, but a heart-pumping time I got to do, with these simple adjustments.
Music had a huge part of my emerging love for the sport. I won’t deny that I credit the new Nicki Minaj album for getting me through half marathon training. Every week I create a new “running only” playlist: music restricted to when I’m on the trails. I began to look forward to my runs because it became the time I could listen to this new compilation. By making it a treat, I started to look forward to not only these jam sessions, but the running time to listen to them, too. I also filed Podcasts under my “running only” playlists. Serial and This American Life are my favorites! I was always looking forward to my runs simply so I could listen to more of these stories unfold!
I found this to be most relevant when traveling. While tour buses and notable attractions have their perks, my favorite adventures have been when I’ve tied up my sneakers, checked Map My Run for a safe route, and headed out for unadvertised side streets, nature parks and hidden city gems. Some of my favorite spur-of-the-moment runs have led me through a Prospect Park farmer’s market in Brooklyn or through a yacht club soiree on the beaches of the Dominican Republic.
If I could credit one thing that made running easier, it would be my breathing. As with many of us, typically my mind tires out before my legs do. I dedicated some serious effort to building up my mental endurance through heated yoga and lengthy vinyasa flows. In turn, I could withstand ‘uncomfortableness’ for longer periods of time and noticed it became easier to tackle increased running distances. Since I was used to focusing on my breathing to relax my body, running became easier since I wasn’t grasping for air and praying to stop after every step.
While I make sure to keep my phone with me for safety reasons, I turn it on to airplane mode and store it out of sight (in a running belt or zipped jacket pocket). Running has become a moving meditation, where I can focus on pushing myself and step away from the stresses of the day. My mantra of choice is “Run it Out.” If work gets crazy or my personal life is a mess and a half, I know I can always turn to the path to offer stability and reflection.
The greatest part about running is it’s room for modification. Start slow, alternate minutes of running with walking until you can build up you time. Or don’t. The thing is that simply being outside and propelling yourself forward is enough! Running allows you to be as competitive as you’d like, or simply an activity for personal satisfaction.
What’s your best trick for tackling long runs?
Sometimes the one quick fix that makes long runs better is new sneakers that truly fit your stride! If I’m getting exceptionally sore or achy after a run, I always check my shoes to see if the tread has gone down on a certain area. If so, I know it’s time that I get fitted for new shoes to make sure I can still log in those miles!