90% of Running Is Half Mental
May 10, 2012
I am a runner. It is my main form of exercise, and I enjoy it most of the time. I even compete in local races of various distances several times a year.
Now, many of you may be picturing me as a skinny, athletic-type who runs fast and eats a lot of pasta. In reality, I am an average weight, I run a pretty average pace, and I have never intentionally "carbo-loaded." I am not particularly athletic in the sense that I am terrible at team sports, especially when throwing and catching are involved. In fact, I absolutely hated running up until about 4 years ago. If I ever did it, it was more walking than running, and rarely did I devote much time doing it.
So what changed?
My attitude about running changed, and now running has changed my life. Regardless of what you think about running, I think most people can agree that it is an effective form of exercise. It is an efficient way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and strengthen your core and lower body. Many people just don’t like it because it can be really hard. But trust me, it doesn’t have to be!
One beautiful fall afternoon a few years ago, I set out for a jog around my neighborhood in lieu of doing one of my exercise DVDs for what seemed to be the millionth time. I had little expectation for this outing, only doing it because I knew it would be a good workout. I had never been able to run for very long without getting out of breath, so I really didn’t expect to be able to get far before needing to stop and walk.
On this particular day, however, it felt so nice to be outside that I kind of just let my mind wander as I ran, looking at the changing leaves and admiring the landscaping of my neighbors’ homes. Before I knew it, I had run for about 10 minutes without having to take a walking break. Of course, as soon as this realization hit, I had to stop and walk. Nonetheless, it dawned on me that I had been able to run that long because I was doing two things differently than I ever had before; I was going slowly instead of running like someone was chasing me, and I let myself enjoy my surroundings, rather than focusing on the discomfort that running caused. When I mapped my route online, I discovered that I had run close to a mile!
Up until that point, I had never thought I was capable of running for a long time or going long distances. Frankly, I had never been interested in doing those things. But accomplishing a 10 minute run without stopping made me wonder how far I could go if I wanted. So, the next day, I went for another run, this time with the goal of going a little farther than I had the day before. I promised myself that I could stop and walk whenever I wanted, but my goal was to cover just a little bit more distance than I had the day before. That day, I covered 1 mile with a walk break about halfway through. The next day, I completed a whole mile without having to stop at all. I couldn’t believe my accomplishment, and I continued to work on building my endurance and my mileage until eventually, I was able to run 2 miles without having to stop and walk.
These days, I usually run about 20-25 miles a week; sometimes more if I am training for a race. Running changed my life because it gave me confidence to try things I never thought I could do, and it provides me a great form of physical exercise and mental balance that helps me enjoy all the other aspects of my life.
If you think you might like to give running a try, the library has some books you might find of interest. Then, check out these online resources:
- Hal Higdon is a nationally recognized running coach who offers training programs for those just starting out as well as the expert runner.
- The Runner’s World web site holds a wealth of information and articles about training, nutrition, and apparel for runners.
- Running Ahead is a web site that allows you to track your workouts, connect with other runners, and find running routes in your area.
Blue Springs South Branch