Super excited to be featured on Healthy Living Blogs yesterday! Check out the post here, or read the full write-up below.
Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t always love running. In fact, if you flash back to my high school years, you’d find me, a naturally lanky teenager, stuffing my face with cookie dough while laughing at all the gym-buffs walking into the neighborhood NYSC, sweaty clothes and long faces in tow. Why would anyone subject themselves to exercise anyway?
Little did I know that the joke would be on me. One day. It was during my freshman year at the University of Michigan when I begrudgingly ambled into the student gym, tail metaphorically between my legs. Merely hearing the words “freshman fifteen” — the dreaded weight-gain attributed to late-night pizza and the discovery of beer – was enough to get me moving. The inherent lifestyle modifications of a college student instilled in me, for the first time, an imminent sense of fear. I would fight those fifteen pounds from tacking themselves to my body even if it meant submitting to the loud, smelly, germ-ridden space known as the undergraduate gym.
I certainly didn’t fall head over heels, but the gym served its purpose, allowing me to maintain a healthy lifestyle amidst brews, bars and game-day burritos (the walk to the Big House, Michigan’s famed football stadium, was loaded with local hotspots geared to the foodie fan). After that first year, however, I began to crave more — not weight loss, and definitely not burritos, but perhaps I can best describe it as a sense of purpose. Overall, I felt as though something important was missing: passion for my actions.
Like I said, I didn’t always love running, and I certainly wasn’t always a runner. To this day, one of my closest friends jokes that she doesn’t get how I can run for miles and miles (and miles) when she can hardly run to the deli downstairs. Well, I answer, I didn’t exactly discover an inborn ability to run either. Just seven years ago, I was no different than you.
The first run I ever took run wasn’t long, fast or pretty. Actually, the run I took yesterday wasn’t either. For me, it’s not about looking like a pro; and if it were, I’d be horribly disappointed regularly. I am an expert novice runner at best. And yet I can honestly and proudly declare that running is mine – my health love.
There are countless ways to exercise — to feel healthy and alive. If you’re interested in becoming ‘a runner’, or whatever that means, then these five tips on how to make running yours — your health love — may prove valuable, from one former non-runner to another.
Start slow. As mentioned, I’m the girl who couldn’t make it to the stop sign without panting and heaving. It’s not always a race. Start by choosing a distance that you’re comfortable with, whether it’s the end of the road, the cafe down the street, or the park 10 miles away. You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try, but overdo it before you’re ready, and you might never give yourself the chance to get there.
Destination do’s. I am a huge fan of destination running, from Central Park and New York City’s High Line to the East River promenade and my favorite dollar-dumpling store downtown. Be creative. Who said you can’t incorporate a little snack or a photo shoot into your workout? And if your destination happens to be a public fountain, a breathtaking vista or some other aesthetically pleasing locale, don’t be afraid to stop and soak it all in. Use that time wisely and stretch.
Reap rewards! It makes me sad when fitness gurus shun the notion of edible rewards. You know what? Sometimes it’s fun to reward yourself with food; just be smart about it. When I started running longer distances in Ann Arbor, I would make Caribou Coffee my end-goal, where I’d pick up a light coffee-flavored slushie-like drink to cool off and caffeinate.
Mix it up. Falling in love with running doesn’t require a daily run. Doing so might even burn you out prematurely. That’s something I learned over time. Fitness fanatic or not, find supplementary ways to be active on days when you don’t feel like hitting the pavement, even if it’s a restorative yoga class or a walk to the farmers’ market. You’d be amazed how tough carrying back loads of vegetables can be. Hello, biceps!
Try tunes. I’m not sure where this anti-music theory came from (the increasing popularity of races, perhaps?), but I certainly don’t agree. While there are days when I prefer to run to the quiet of my mind, I also love rocking out to the latest David Guetta jam or, on a rainy day, The Beatles. Music is one of the best ways to make running yours. Pick some tunes, and get moving.
- How have you made running yours?
- Think back to when you first began pounding pavement. How did you motivate yourself to build endurance and speed — or even make it past that stop sign in the distance?