Many books have been written about how to run, how not to run, what to eat, drink, how to stretch before, how after, and even how to dress for a run. I think that for running to have lasting effect and to get the most out of it, it needs to become a lifestyle. To incorporate such activity into our lives, we usually need pretty good reason – and to find out what that is, we don´t need a textbook.
It happens to be almost exactly to the day a year since I moved home after studying abroad, in Scotland. Apart from amazing experiences and many adventures I had never thought I would be able to undergo, I was coming home laden with approximately 17 extra pounds. Scotland´s climate is harsh and for its people to survive, the food needs to be hearty and nutritious. Oddly, this somehow did not correspond with my lifestyle of overnight studying in the library, late evening snacks to keep me going, and tremendous amounts of coffee. About 2 months before it was time to come back to the Czech Republic I decided this needed to change.
Worn off trainers
First I purchased membership in a local gym. It was really small and also ridiculously cheap, even suspiciously cheap for the locals; hence it was almost always empty. I somehow managed to go there every other day for month or so, however the horrible smell that reminded me of PE lessons at high school was something I could not bear for any longer.
Instead I joined a class, called the “body blitz”. Exactly like Germans did 70 years earlier, I believed the blitz would bring immediate and immense success. And exactly like France, 70 years earlier, I surrendered quickly. Our coach reminded me, by his size compared to all of us, Tolkien´s White Orc. He also yelled at us in the similar fashion. Needless to say, I never came back.
And then, it struck me – why don’t I simply grab my pair of trainers and go running, when just outside our halls of residence there was a beautiful natural park? It was free, I could breathe there and no one was trying to cause me a heart attack.
Things escalated quickly after that day. In April I returned back home, started working full time and also went running every day. At first, things did not go too well, I was really slow, felt like a bumpkin and I had to slow down to walking pace every 5 minutes or so. Few weeks later, I was surprised by how quickly I improved. In June, I finished my first half-marathon in Ceske Budejovice.
Run for your life
What´s my point? Running or even just fast paced walking is one of the most natural activities we can do. It´s only because of the excessive time we sit behind a desk every day that we have forgotten about it and also how to do it. Running is much more natural than complicated systems of exercise or weight lifting in a gym.
You can run basically anywhere and anytime. The time you spend running will repay itself multiple times. It is a great way how to clear your head, to feel free and strong. The point is not to break the records, lose 20 pounds and outrun all the others (however this might be a good motivation!). The point is to allow yourself to enjoy the great feeling after you have finished your run as the endorphins are triggering happy mood.
One of the great advantages of running is that you can adapt it to your specific preferences. If you are a solitaire, you can go by yourself, listen to music and ignore the rest of the world. If you are more sociable, go with a friend, relative or join one of the many training groups. If you are the nature lover (that´s my case) you can find different route every weekend and enjoy a little bit of sightseeing on the way as well.
Run for your well-being
I feel that in our accelerated, depersonalized and hi-tech era, we tend to take such simple thing like running just too seriously. You need this special gear, this smartphone app, that water-fire-wind-radioactivity proof jacket and of course you can´t go without renewing the whole arsenal now and then. No one will argue that quality and comfortable shoes are a must, but why freak out so much about the rest? Physical activity should help us relieve the stress not cause it.
The best part of the story how I became a runner is that I have not only lost the excessive weight, but I feel better than ever before, I can catch a bus or tram without getting out of breath. I even stopped craving the unhealthy food and actually started craving vegetables instead. Sounds scary? Maybe, but it all happened almost without noticing, only as a pleasant and welcomed side effect.
Run for your brain too
If you are not convinced yet, I have a little bonus to conclude with. The results of a study of University of Minnesota have showed that doing cardio activities (such as running!) in your 20s leads to better thinking skills and memory capacity in the future. So if you want to avoid the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, get moving now, your brain will thank you 20 years later!
Bottom line: If you need a motivation, why not to sign up for a run, you can find the list of all the events here: http://www.behej.com/terminovka for European (half)marathons visit here: http://www.marathonrunnersdiary.com/races/europe-marathons-list.php