I started running 2 years ago…
…and haven’t stopped since then (read: I’ve been running on a regular basis 3 to 5 times a week).
My running journey
Initially, my purpose was to be able to enjoy the sweet treats that went round the office and to maintain a balanced weight in the face of them. Indeed, it was good food that propelled me to start running.
I still remember how my partner came over one Friday evening to get us ready for a weekend trip and found me frenetically researching treadmills. I was living in a tiny room with a gigantic bed, but somehow managed to convince myself that a treadmill was the must-have item in my bedroom. After a few discouraging price comparisons, he made that powerful recommendation: You could run outside!
I looked out of the window, saw the gloomy weather and my mind disapproved the idea: “But I would be cold!”. However, my partner insisted: “You will get warm while running”. To which I had a counter-argument: “But it rains a lot, so I wouldn’t be able to do it regularly”. Luckily, my partner persevered: “That’s the good thing about it: you could run when it’s nice and have an excuse not to run when it’s not nice”. I was defence-less. I spent the 3 days of the trip, looking forward to starting A New Life. Yes, running was set to change my life – the way I spend my free time, what I eat and how I perceive myself.
Although I had a couple of running attempts during my student life (to counteract exam-stress comfort eating), my first decent run took place in the morning of the 4th of March 2013. I still remember how, armed with my partner’s iPod, I stepped outside in the cold at 7 a.m. and hit the road with the purpose of doing it for 30 mins. As soon as I started, mixed feelings began to flood my heart. My mind was sending conflicting thoughts to me: anxiety that I might be late for work or that someone I know might see me, counteracted by the pride of doing the right thing and putting my planned goals into action.
The running app on my iPod announced me when I was half-way though my goal. I was equally surprised and proud. Me? Been running for 15 mins and can keep going still? Soon after, I heard the glorious Workout Completed! words. I was so overwhelmed with pride, that my heart started pumping out really fast. Wow! I did it! I went back home thinking: my best use of 30 mins … ever! Buzzing with excitement, it gave me the sense of being on top of the world! The next day I was able to combat the soreness of my untrained muscles and start again. And so, my running routine began. 5k became the first goal of my day.
It’s great to start your day with the accomplishment of a good goal such as completing a run, as it sets you in the achievement mode for the rest of the day. Action breeds more action, satisfaction breeds satisfaction, good things start to happen and you’re on a roll! Make running the engine that can power your day.
When you first start, running can feel like a chore (sometimes, when woken up in a lazy mode my mind still thinks: have to go through all that before breakfast), but miraculously, when completed, it turns itself into a blessing feeling of achievement.
Running has greatly influenced my mentality and changed my perception of life, time and happiness. I will share with you some of my life-changing running experiences, in the hope that it will inspire you to do the same.
Firstly, running has made me embrace nature and subsequently I fell for it. I didn’t appreciate nature enough before I started running. In fact, my sedentary-self dreaded going outside (“What a waste of time…” I thought, “…when there is so much entertainment and comfort at home”). In contrast, I now feel compelled to go outside and start running when it’s a sunny day. It’s like the sunshine is inviting me out. In this way, I feel that I am making the most of nature, that I am embracing it in all its beauty. In fact, I am unsure as to what triggers what: doing a good run to pin down good nature or chasing good nature to do a good run. Regardless of the reason, they are both interlinked: whilst before I used to be quite ignorant of the course of nature, I am now more aware of its changing patterns, such as when trees start to blossom, when certain plants and fruits (that I’m after ) start to ripen. This has made me feel more entrenched in the course of life.
Secondly, it has made me want to be more active and energetic and, thanks to this, I now feel that I live more intensely (probably do!). Running helps me to structure my day, which is particularly important for my time-bound mentality who perceives time as luxury. If I think that I will dedicate 0.5 hours (out of 4 free hours that I have in the working day) to running, my mind automatically considers how best to put to use the remaining 3.5 hours. This mental framework, fuelled by the energy that running brings, makes me want to maximise the use of my time. In fact, there was an extremely busy time of my life when I used to think of each working day as: run-work-run-sleep. In a way, this kept me sane.
Thirdly, running has led me to kick-start Project Health: doing something as good as running for my body has sub-consciously made me want to take better care of myself. So, I started making healthier choices such as eating veggies (I had already been hooked on fruit :-)), buying natural skincare (and making my own, even), as well as looking for health-enhancing supplements.
There are many well-known health benefits to running, such as boosting your metabolism, losing weight, improving brain function and mental health, strengthening the muscles, enhancing joints, knees and bone mass, making you happier due to the feel-good hormones that are released during physical exercise, reducing the risk of cancer and even prolonging your life.
Finally, running has given me a new identity (I’m a runner now) and a sense of superiority. I often run by people waiting at the local bus stop or sat on the pub’s terrace and I feel that they look at me with envy – as if thinking: Look how she can do this, living it to the fullest, while we’re sat here watching life go by.
I started running when I didn’t have any other pastimes and overtime running has become my hobby. In the first months (maybe year?), I felt dishonest when saying that running was my hobby. I still perceived it as hard work (far from how I wanted to spend my free time) and just thought that if I proclaimed it my hobby, it made me look cool and interesting. However, over time, as I started doing it regularly, I realised that running became an important part of my day-to-day life: a priority in the morning before work or a priority in the evening before unwinding after work. Now, I look forward to every run. It is something that I own: my run, my time, my achievement.
Like many other runners, I found so much happiness during and after running and I hope you will, too. In fact, running has redefined what happiness means to me and I now see it in the simple things such as a sunny day spent in nature. Speaking of happiness, writing this blog post has aroused in me the need to get high (well, runner’s high ), so I am off to chase the goodness…