It’s crazy to think that I’ve been running for almost 3 years now. I just topped 1,000 miles a couple months ago, and it feels like it hasn’t been nearly that long. Although I find it easier to start running now during the week, it wasn’t always like that. If you asked me to go for a run a few years ago, I would’ve said “no way” pretty quickly. I used to think: “why, when I could do so much more with my spare time?” It’s true - I could do other things. But none of them would give me the same refreshed and energized feelings the days and weeks after my runs.
The hard part
Before I started running, I was working through a lot of internal stress. I’m not the kind of person to blow up with a hot fit of rage in front of everyone. Instead, I tended to keep most of that chaos inside my head - which would often leave me pretty exhausted the minute I got off of work. The only way I could relieve some of that mental pressure was to talk about it. But in talking about it, the stress would sometimes resurface again. It was time for something more, and something that would get me out of my comfort zone.
My wife Daniela was the one to bring me into it. She started running regularly a few months before I did, and after a few times of saying “no, I’m busy,” or “eh…I really don’t feel like it today…I’m not a runner…” I finally decided to go with her.
Just getting started was the hardest part. I felt kind of stupid, because running felt like such a basic thing and I didn’t know the first thing I should do. There was one thing I did know though—that if I ran with the mental picture of me running sluggishly in grade school, I’d give up pretty quickly. So I tried to force that out of my head, and instead tried to focus on just the act of running - nothing more.
For the first few runs, I could only make it about 2 or maybe 3 miles before panting, cramping and being out of breath. I was tired, but also strangely energized and feeling clear-headed. I noticed I slept better too. Before I knew it, I was going for a run 3-4 times per week and not thinking twice about it.
Here’s the basics of what I do for every run, which is usually about 6 miles:
10 min. warm-up
These are using a combo of stretches, taken from the Nike Training Club app. It’s perfect for any medium to long distance runs.
My runs usually last about 30-45 minutes, depending on my pace. I found that if I tensed up in my arms and hands, it would really hurt later. So I keep them as loose as possible, still moving them to guide my strides. I also take a swig of water every mile to keep hydrated.
10 min. cool-down
After doing my big running period, I cool down by walking for a few minutes and then doing the same warm-up stretches.
And that’s basically it. Running really shouldn’t be too complex, and I keep trying to simplify what I need to run.
Shoes are a pretty personal thing and can be different for everyone. I’ve found these to be pretty awesome for the last few months—plenty of cushion and comfort for all-around running. For tracking runs, I used to use the Nike+ app and sensor in my shoe. But since I got the Fuelband, I’ve just been using that. It’s way lighter than an armband with a phone on it, and really gets out of the way. I kind of miss knowing the mileage of all my runs, but that’s not really why I run anyway!
I find music definitely helps when I’m running inside, and I really like some variation in tempos—as long as it’s pretty upbeat and constant. I often create playlists like these, or play a full-length album that fits with my normal running time. When I’m outside, I like to just listen to my surroundings—whether it’s in the city or in nature.
Keeping it alive
It’s so incredibly easy not to run, that I’ve had to carve out time during the week to make it happen. But for me, that wasn’t really enough—I needed to think about the positive effects of it. The best way I’ve come to understand how important it is to my daily life is thinking about it as a cycle. Our bodies are designed to move, whether we like it or not. And unfortunately I, like many people nowadays, work at a desk on a computer for most of the day. It’s important to introduce some motion into the cycle of these stationary weekdays. Otherwise our muscles slack, it takes longer to break down fat, and things like heart issues become a problem over time.
Now, it’s one thing to read a bunch of studies and figures and think “yeah, of course that makes sense!” But until I kept a routine going for an extended period of time—I didn’t know the mental and physical payoffs until I’d stop for a week during times like the holidays. I’d notice my energy levels during the day take a dive, and my overall mood going down. It was super hard to get motivated for the simplest things, like waking up early to go to work.
Once I got back into running though, it was like my long lost friend came back into my life. I feel more energized if I start my day with a run than without. As I head into my next 1,000 miles, these are the kinds of things that’ll always keep running a major part of my life.