Thoughts on Running (+ 3 Tips to find Joy in Movement)

I started running in 8th grade, and I ran my first 5k about a month or so later. The thrill of being able to run so long (3 whole miles!) was incredible, and I was hooked. That year, I trained for a 10k and a half marathon with my mom and neighbor. Running buddies are the best! I kept going and ran most of the time all through high school and college and accumulated one full marathon, a handful of halfs, and numerous 5ks and 10ks.

Why I Run

I run because I truly LOVE it. Hands down, the endorphin rush and feeling after a good run is better than chocolate sometimes. And, I love chocolate. Honestly, though, running:

  • clears my brain from crazy, racing thoughts (and often replaces them with the most random ones)
  • makes me feel ALIVE
  • can turn my frown upside down and change my mood
  • gives me a new perspective on situations
  • connects me with my body & nature - why I crave outdoors run & skip the dreadmill

This (short) list of what running does for me keeps me coming back, but sometimes, I get wrapped up in the competition of it all. The numbers: pace, miles, races, heart-rate. Yes, it's definitely fun to run far and fast, but that's not why I run at all. So, when I found myself putting off my runs or not finding the joy in it, I took a little break.After I ran my first marathon, I kept going with the high-mileage and tried to run most days of the week. My body isn't meant to run that much, and I need rest days, lots of yoga, and foam rolling. I wore my body out, and I needed a break. So, I took some time, run some easy 5ks for fun, then basically took this past winter off completely. The bitter-cold and snowstorms also made it hard to get out there. Much better weather at the race I ran this weekend...

Vermont City Marathon Finish Line

I knew it was time to return to running when I started getting a little jealous when I'd drive by other runners out there having a glorious run. If you're a runner, you know what I'm talking about - you're driving to work on a beautiful day and see a group of runners out there smiling and loving life...and you get hit with runner's envy. Since it's finally spring, I've hit the roads a few times a week, and even the short runs I've done have been incredible.

In the past when I wasn't in running shape, I would beat myself up about not being able to run an easy 3 or 5 miles. I would tell myself that 5 miles was a short run when I was training for my marathon, but this time, my self-talk become filled with compassion. I learned to love the run, regardless of the numbers. Instead of getting annoyed about taking walking breaks (or stopping to let my dog sniff out squirrels), I embraced them.

Racing with Joy

In the past I used my Garmin on every single run and recorded my time and mileage, but now, I can't tell how you how far or long I ran. I'm estimating my runs have been 2-4ish miles and slower than normal, but no idea. It's really fun to leave my Garmin at home and just explore and run for FUN. For the joy of moving my body and feeling alive.

Yesterday, I ran my favorite race ever - Vermont City Marathon - as a 5-person relay team. I soaked it all in - views, gorgeous weather (and yes, sunburn...oops), spectator support (funny signs), and being surrounded by thousands of runners. I ran out of love for my body and left all the numbers out. No Garmin. No MapMyRun.

I really don't care anymore about how slow or fast I run, and while races are fun to push myself, there's just something incredible about sharing the road with hundreds or thousands of others celebrating the run.

If you're struggling to find joy in exercise, try these 3 simple tips:

3 Simple Tips to Find Joy in Movement

3 tips to find joy in movement

  1. Find the exercise you really enjoy and move with joy. If you hate running, you don't have to run. If you love running, run because you love it. If you love Zumba, then dance it up. There's hundreds of ways to move your body - weight lifting, crossfit, walking, running, hiking, swimming, dancing, waterskiing, the list goes on - so find one or more ways you LOVE, and add it to your day. Exercise shouldn't be torture, and the 'no pain, no gain' mentality has got to go.
  2. Give up numbers. It's totally okay to track your progress, but don't workout to get in a certain number of miles, hit a certain pace, or burn x number of calories. Don't worry about exercising every single day. Rest days are important too, and sometimes, you just need a full rest week. I find a flexible weekly work-out schedule works for me, but I'm always willing to adjust it based on how I'm feeling that day.
  3. Move your body to feel alive. To clear your head. Out of love - not hate- for your body. Be grateful that your body can move and exercise! Take a mental note of how you feel after you exercise. Pay attention to how you feel about your body, your mood, and your energy. Come back to that feeling to motivate you to move. Keep in mind you don't have to formally exercise to move your body. A short walk at lunch rejuvenates me for the rest of the day, and a short yoga session in the evening helps me relax and calm my body down before bed.

How does Exercise make you Feel?

How do you Move with Joy?

PS: Here's a collage from the race this weekend. I highly recommend this race as the marathon or relay, and there couldn't have been a better day to run!

VCM Relay 2014

1. Race signs - "There's nutella at the finish" and "Run now. Poop later." Another favorite was "Whine now. Wine later."

2./3. Relay race team. Bffs (our silly team name) and girls I've known from elementary/high school (+ a new great friend!)

4. This is the finish line view. Nothing better.