The running bug that has been moving around, finally got me! After weeks of watching different accounts of morning runs on social media, this flame was well and truly fanned. Thankfully, we live in an age where physical exercise can take various forms; ranging from more fun and enjoyable activities like Zumba, to intense workouts such as CrossFit.
I have dabbled in a few of the different forms, my preferences being high-intensity interval training (HIIT), kickboxing exercises, and the occasional dance workout. However, everyone has their Achilles heel, and running is it for me.
There is just something about running, perhaps I feel that it’s the only protective mechanism I know; Fight or Flight.
Deep down in my subconscious, I don’t think I had any positive memories attached to running, if I wasn’t running away from a scary dog, it was from a mean teacher who was hell-bent on punishing whichever students came last in running exercises every Friday – Something I was all too familiar with.
Today, I’d like to think that I have grown out of that childhood trauma. And coupled with the boredom that comes with some measures of social distancing, I found myself signing up for a morning run routine.
Ideally, in a perfect world I would have nailed this challenge at least for the first week. Realistically, I had more wins than fails and a whole lot of lessons learnt which I will now immediately get into before I discredit my efforts.
Waking up in the morning is quite the struggle for me. Any time before 7:00am is strictly classified as “ungodly hours”. Add that to the small issue of how running is not exactly my cup of tea to say the very least and my chances of success on day one were looking very slim.
However, I was determined to accomplish this challenge and took the extra step to set my alarm clock 30 minutes ahead of time and at five minute intervals.
The psychology behind this method is that somewhere along the third to fifth time you press snooze, you’ll grow tired or upset enough to wake up. Wisdom, ladies and gentlemen!
I also made sure to lay out everything I would need for running in advance the night before. I’m happy to report that day one was a success.
Here’s what I learnt on Day One:
Preparation is key – What I think we often highly underestimate from this phrase is how convincing our minds can be. This can be a good thing, or a very inconvenient thing depending on what narrative is playing in our minds and subconscious. This is why I believe that self-awareness is a very important tool in achieving success. Understanding how our minds work for and against us and the subconscious thoughts and narratives that influence our beliefs and behaviors enables us learn more about our minds’ defenses and better prepare how to counter them.
Get that morning fresh air – For me, getting out for fresh air, amidst this Covid-19 Era had to be the highlight of my day one. There is just something about the crisp air in the morning, and observing the sun rise earlier in the day that is very rewarding. The combination of morning air and some form of exercise also seemed to work really well in clearing my mind.
Work with where you are – Day one was more of a beginner’s long distance running training than a sprint race. And that was okay too, because it was day one. Pushing yourself too hard when trying out something new could end up producing the opposite results, feeding discouragement and dread rather than enthusiasm and encouragement, not to mention the physical repercussions that arise from over extension.
What I have observed from prior exercising is how remarkable the human body is in performing even the hardest of exercises. However, this happens with time, as the body needs to progressively become accustomed to different levels of intensity.
I didn’t find too much of a problem with waking up on day 2. Like the previous day, I had done due diligence to excuse-proof my morning routine, so to speak.
Here’s what I learned on day 2:
Power of togetherness – Day 1 exposed me to the large number of people that had taken up running in my neighborhood, something I never thought occurred.
And right here, I’ll like point out the amount of encouragement that arises from noting that something we want to do has been done before, it gives us the enthusiasm and character and courage to pursue our dreams. In my case it was the encouragement that other people also woke up to run that enabled me to get past the self-consciousness of running and choose to run another day.
Find your fuel – I had a lot of enthusiasm on day 2. This would probably be because I was riding on the high of the accomplishment I had made the day before. Which brings me to the point that it is important to find your fuel and to realize that it’s going to be different on different days. On one occasion, your fuel may be courage or bravery, on another occasion determination, and on another, accomplishments.
Whatever it is, ask yourself, “what do I stand to gain from getting this done?” Then use that answer as your fuel to propel you through your goal.
Day 3 found my legs feeling a bit sore from the strain of running, and I almost didn’t make it. However, my determination was pretty compelling. I still had to go a little slower because of how sore my body was.
Here is what I learned on day 3:
Make the choice to at least start – When I started out on my fitness journey, I had a real problem with consistency. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I got was to convince my mind that I was only going to do it for five minutes.
Most of the time, the real challenge is just starting.
When I reduced my goal to merely just starting, or going for a shorter period of time, I often found that in most cases momentum caused me to reach my goals. Day 3 was no different. The plan was to just power walk and run halfway. In this case, that’s exactly what happened, however I did get that exercise in either way.
Sleep arrears from day 1 to 3 had piled up and a girl slept in and couldn’t make it for her morning run. This was that fail I talked about… sigh. I still really didn’t want to fall of my morning routine so I decided to take a long walk in the evening.
Here’s what I learned on day 4:
Let go of perfectionism – As a perfectionist, most goals seem like an all or nothing type of situation. Just like in this one, I would have easily classified my goal as a fail. However, I tried to compensate in the way I knew how, and chose to plan on how to make day 5 a success.
The important thing here is that I didn’t give up on my morning routine despite the fail.
Make the choice to adopt the “something is better than nothing” mentality instead of the “all or nothing” mindset.
I made it to the end of the week! Day 5’s fuel was the anticipation of accomplishment.
The main lesson was on the importance of setting small goals. I only had to do this for 5 days, and this made my goal look achievable, thus I believed it and worked towards it.
So what did I learn after 5 days of taking up running? It’s still not exactly my thing.
I much rather prefer my usual exercise of choice. And neither is waking up early.
However, fresh air in the morning is definitely my thing and as such, I see myself incorporating morning runs as part of my exercise routine – ideally most of the times, but realistically, some of the times.
Now, running has become part of my exercise routine. There is nothing as confidence boosting as turning cant’s into can’s. All in all, the Sagittarius in me is always encouraging people to try out new things.
So with this information, what do you think, is running a part of your foreseeable future?