Run­ners are a lit­tle bit crazy; there’s no way around that. There are plen­ty of low­er impact sports out there that don’t include miles and miles on the pave­ment or a trail, sore legs and often-ugly feet. But there’s some­thing mag­i­cal about run­ning; there’s an enthu­si­as­tic opti­mism even when we’re hurt­ing, and one cheer from a spec­ta­tor at a race can break down even the high­est of walls. If that’s not enough to con­vince you to lace up, here are 10 rea­sons to start running:

It’s rel­a­tive­ly cheap.
All you need to run is a good pair of run­ning shoes. Once you have a pair of those, the world is your tread­mill. Go run the trail by the riv­er, or head out to your favorite neigh­bor­hoods for a jog. Grant­ed, races tend to be pret­ty spendy, but if you aren’t enter­ing any then run­ning will remain a real­ly cheap sport.

It’s good for you.
When you run, you don’t just strength­en your legs; you also strength­en your heart and keep your cho­les­terol down. And it’s good for your immune sys­tem. And it increas­es your bone den­si­ty, help­ing you fend off osteo­poro­sis. And it’ll help you lose weight and keep it off.

It’s a great way to explore your city.
Want to head out into the streets and see your city from a dif­fer­ent view­point? Run through it. Chances are you’ll find places you didn’t know were there and you might learn new and bet­ter routes to get around town.

You can run for a cause.
If you do decide to do a race, you’ll get the chance to run for a great cause—since most ben­e­fit char­i­ties. When you run for some­thing you believe in, it def­i­nite­ly helps add some moti­va­tion that’ll keep you going the full distance.

You can do it anywhere.
This is the sport/exercise you can take with you every­where. All you need to do is pack your run­ning shoes. Take a jog on the beach while on vaca­tion, or check out a new city when you’re away on a work trip. Or, you know, head out on a great trail run while on a camp­ing trip.

You can do it anytime.
Despite the time of year and the weath­er, it’s still pos­si­ble to run. Even when it’s snowy and cold, you can either head inside for a tread­mill jog, or bun­dle up and pre­pare to burn even more calo­ries on a great win­ter run.

You’ll increase your stamina.
Run­ning will help increase your sta­mi­na in basi­cal­ly every oth­er phys­i­cal activ­i­ty you do. It’ll make work­outs and oth­er sports a lit­tle bit eas­i­er and more enjoy­able, as well as, ahem, oth­er areas in your life.

You’ll meet new people.
Even if you only ever run solo and nev­er do any races, if you keep a reg­u­lar run­ning sched­ule, chances are you’ll start to see the same faces. This could lead to a future poten­tial run­ning bud­dy, or maybe you’ll just exchange names or smile at each oth­er each day. Either way, there’s def­i­nite­ly extra moti­va­tion in know­ing you’ll get to see some­one famil­iar out there.

You’ll get more energy.
If you run in the morn­ing, you’ll get your­self a nice ener­gy boost that might just last you through the day. But over­all, even one run can help defeat fatigue and fight slug­gish­ness. It’s a nat­ur­al stim­u­lant and bet­ter for you than that fourth cup of coffee.

You’ll feel bet­ter about yourself.
Com­bine all of the above and what do you have? A more inspired, high­er self-esteemed you. You’ll feel proud of the accom­plish­ments in your per­son­al runs, like when you break your own records for your fastest miles, and, if you decide to do races, when you accom­plish your first 5k, 10k, 15k, half-marathon and maybe even marathon.

Run­ning is a very demand­ing sport, both phys­i­cal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly. Although the ben­e­fits often out­weigh the neg­a­tives, some­times you just start feel­ing burnt out and need a lit­tle extra moti­va­tion­al kick to get back in the swing of things. Here are a few ideas to try next time you find your­self feel­ing unin­spired on a run.

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Try a new route
Run­ners, like any­one, get stuck in their rou­tines. Just like peo­ple cycle through the same 12 din­ners for years, run­ners will cycle through their same 3–4 run­ning routes until they could run it in their sleep. No won­der they lose moti­va­tion! It’s impor­tant to keep your mind stim­u­lat­ed while run­ning and give your­self new turns, sights, and mile mark­ers to look for­ward to. If you’re lim­it­ed by where you live, try dri­ving or rid­ing your bike a few miles away on the week­ends and begin­ning a run from a new loca­tion, or have a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber drop you off a few miles away and run home.

Vol­un­teer at a Race
Although many run­ners sign up and par­tic­i­pate in races, far few­er give back and vol­un­teer. Most races depend heav­i­ly on vol­un­teers, and you’re not like­ly to ever be turned away if you offer your time. Vol­un­teer­ing lets you feel the rush of pos­i­tive ener­gy and enthu­si­asm of races with­out hav­ing to train and run in it. See­ing run­ners of all ages and ath­let­ic abil­i­ties work­ing hard, achiev­ing their goals, and cel­e­brat­ing at the fin­ish line emits an extreme­ly con­ta­gious good feel­ing that is bound to get you excit­ed about your own train­ing once again. Don’t be sur­prised if you find your­self sign­ing up for the same race you just vol­un­teered for.

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Go shop­ping!
Although shop­ping is not always rec­om­mend­ed as the go-to bore­dom buster, few run­ners can deny the remark­able feel­ing a new pair or run­ning shorts or shoes (or, if you’re on a bud­get, just a head­band or fun col­ored shoelaces) can pro­vide. Per­haps all run­ners secret­ly want to believe that new gear might make us faster run­ners, but hon­est­ly, who’s to say it can’t? It’s all about atti­tude, after all.

Read a book about running
There are count­less inspi­ra­tional books on run­ning out there. We are all inspired by dif­fer­ent types of sto­ries, but here are a few to get your list start­ed: Born to Run by Christo­pher McDougall, Ultra­ma­rathon Man: Con­fes­sion of an All-Night Run­ner by Dean Kar­nazes, Eat and Run: My Unlike­ly Jour­ney to Ultra­ma­rathon Great­ness by Scott Jurek, Run­ning Through the Wall: Per­son­al Encoun­ters With the Ultra­ma­rathon by Neal Jami­son and Don Alli­son, or Once A Run­ner (the only nov­el in this list) by John L. Park­er. It would be near­ly impos­si­ble to read any one of these books and not want to get back out there with a fresh­ly inspired perspective.

sdTake a week off
If all else fails, maybe you’re just burnt out men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly. Lis­ten to your body and give it a break. Get some extra rest, catch up on your ‘to do’ list around the house, read a new book, and just relax. It nev­er seems to take run­ners more than a week to start itch­ing and reach­ing for their run­ning shoes again.

Run­ners of all abil­i­ty lev­els expe­ri­ence some moti­va­tion loss at times but, thank­ful­ly, it’s a very fix­able prob­lem. What are your moti­va­tion secrets?

Think While Running?Run­ning has changed a lot for me over the years. When I first start­ed, I looked at run­ning as a sport, with the goal of get­ting bet­ter. Run­ning was hard those days and involved a lot of men­tal tough­ness. It wasn’t as much fun back then. Sev­en­teen years lat­er, I have grown to love run­ning; from the phys­i­cal health to the feel­ings of accom­plish­ment it pro­vides. More than any­thing, how­ev­er, run­ning pro­vides me san­i­ty; a time in every day when I can focus on what­ev­er I damn well please and actu­al­ly make some men­tal progress. It is a source of guilt-free free­dom that gives me killer calves to boot. What is there not to love about this sport?

I’ve been asked by both non-run­ning and run­ning friends on what I think about while run­ning. The ques­tion usu­al­ly comes up in con­ver­sa­tions about long runs. Peo­ple want to know how I keep myself occu­pied when run­ning for 2–3 hours at a time. Trust me, think­ing is not hard – it’s the whole ‘shut­ting your mind off’ thing that takes practice.

It’s imprac­ti­cal to list the things I’ve thought about over the years, because it includes damn near every­thing. Most com­mon­ly, how­ev­er, I think about three things.

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Train­ing
First, I think about what­ev­er I’m train­ing for. That one’s obvi­ous. I don’t just go for mul­ti­ple hour runs for the hell of it. I envi­sion the course, how it will be to run the ter­rain in all types of weath­er, what my pace will be, when I’ll start tak­ing in calo­ries, and how great my knees will feel (they gen­er­al­ly explode in pain around mile 22–25, so I try the ‘pos­i­tive think­ing’ approach). It hasn’t worked yet.

My Prob­lems
Sec­ond, I think about what­ev­er is trou­bling me at the moment. I’m basi­cal­ly the pro­to­type for Type A per­son­al­i­ties with a dash of obses­sive com­pul­sive­ness, a pinch of hypochon­dria, and I’m a mom. In oth­er words, I’m a cock­tail of wor­ry with a pony­tail bounc­ing along the side of the road. There is always some­thing trou­bling me, rang­ing from which new organ­ic clean­ing sup­plies recipe from Pin­ter­est I want to try next, to won­der­ing how the hell I’m going to pot­ty train my daugh­ter, to the fate of the envi­ron­ment. Seri­ous­ly. My range is that big on a reg­u­lar basis. With­out run­ning, I have no doubt that I would be on anti-anx­i­ety med­ica­tion, divorced, and liv­ing in my parent’s base­ment chew­ing my fin­ger­nails, afraid to leave and face the world.

co1Of course I’m being a bit face­tious here – but only a bit. The men­tal clar­i­ty that run­ning pro­vides me is unpar­al­leled. For some rea­son, when my body is bounc­ing over asphalt or trails and my skin is moist with sweat, I am able to think past my vast sea of wor­ries and find res­o­lu­tions, devel­op plans of attack, and reach a point of calm and accep­tance that things will be okay. I hon­est­ly don’t think I’ve ever returned from a run in a worse mood than when I left. I can’t say that for any­thing else I’ve done regularly.

Fam­i­ly
Final­ly, I think about my fam­i­ly. This is the newest one for me. Think­ing about my hus­band and daugh­ter while run­ning makes me hap­py and able to run bet­ter than I ever have. I have a faster aver­age pace, run far longer dis­tances than I ever used to, and even feel bet­ter after­wards. Oth­er than that, run­ning keeps me healthy – phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly – for those I love.

What do you think about while running?

Training for Your First Marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a moment after you reg­is­ter for your first marathon when it sud­den­ly becomes clear that you’ve com­mit­ted to run­ning much far­ther than 26.2 miles. It sinks in that your train­ing will require eas­i­ly over 100 miles of run­ning. And, if you’re a sane per­son, that’s the moment it gets a lit­tle scary and you real­ize: this thing you’ve decid­ed to do is real­ly going to hurt.

But don’t fret—here are some tips to make the train­ing process a lit­tle bit smoother (except the run­ning part, of course, that’s real­ly all up to you):

Make time
One of the biggest things you’ll have to do is rearrange your sched­ule a lit­tle bit to make time for your runs. When you have a 26.2‑mile race loom­ing, the last thing you want to do is skimp on train­ing because you just don’t have enough time. If you real­ly don’t have enough time, you have no busi­ness run­ning a marathon. It’s as easy as that. So make sure you can fit in runs at least 4 or 5 days of the week.

fdFind a sched­ule that works for you
All it takes is a quick Google search and you’ll find a vari­ety of marathon-train­ing sched­ules. One is bound to work for you. Be sure to tweak it as much as nec­es­sary and add the runs to your phone cal­en­dar so you’ll have it with you at all times.

Don’t pro­cras­ti­nate
You will feel every day of pro­cras­ti­na­tion in your marathon. Seri­ous­ly. Get out there and go run today. Don’t push off your train­ing runs or you won’t be get­ting the dis­tance or speed you want in your longer runs.

Slow and steady
Don’t plan on start­ing with 7‑mile runs if you haven’t even been run­ning five. Increase your week­ly mileage by no more than 10 per­cent, because the last thing you want is an injury. And don’t wor­ry too much about your pace to start with. It’s your first marathon; your pri­ma­ry goal should be just to finish.

restdaysUse your rest days
Use your rest days; you’ll need them. Overuse is easy when you’re train­ing for a long run and it can cause huge prob­lems. So be sure to relax. You won’t get stronger if you’re con­stant­ly try­ing to go at 100 percent.

Eat well
Besides choos­ing health­i­er options, you’ll also prob­a­bly want to eat more than usu­al since you’ll be burn­ing a lot of calo­ries on those runs—and you’ll real­ly need the fuel. And don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly wor­ry about “car­bo load­ing.” Use your food sched­ule dur­ing your train­ing as a gauge of what to eat before, dur­ing and after your marathon. Don’t do any­thing dif­fer­ent just for the race; keep it consistent.

Hydrate
The longer you run, the more water you’ll need. Don’t get dehy­drat­ed. Not only will it cost you in your runs, result­ing in a slow­er pace you might not even be able to sus­tain for as far as you need to, it can also result in seri­ous health issues.

Get some sleep
You won’t be able to run at 100 per­cent if you haven’t been sleep­ing at 100 per­cent. And you might even need to sleep a lit­tle more than usu­al, because a 17-mile run can real­ly tuck­er you out.

cross-trainingDo some cross-training
Cross-train­ing is a great way to mix it up and avoid overuse of cer­tain mus­cles. Do some yoga for stretch­ing and strength, or head out for a bike ride to work on your endurance and use your legs in a dif­fer­ent way. Do what works for you and fits in your train­ing schedule.

Try to have fun
A lot of run­ning mag­a­zines will tell you that marathons are fun, but in actu­al­i­ty: they’re not real­ly. The fun part is the feel­ing you get when you’re done and being able to say you did it. The actu­al run­ning part is hard and it hurts, but forc­ing a smile until it becomes real can def­i­nite­ly help make it more enjoy­able. Fake it till you make it.