If I had a nickel for every time I was called crazy for running in the morning, let’s just say I wouldn’t be sitting in my modest one-bedroom listening to a rackety garbage truck below my window right now.
Truthfully, I find that what I do is the simplest approach to leading a healthy lifestyle. I run. I run every morning. I run every morning without thinking about it. It’s easy, which is what healthy living should, if all goes right, be.
If you can get yourself into a healthy routine — any healthy routine, be it Meatless Mondays or Weight Train Wednesdays — you begin to find that life without those learned activities and habits gets weird. In fact, it’s the mornings when I don’t run that I feel the worst throughout the day, even when that extra hour of sleep, snuggling under the covers, is exactly what I think I need at that moment. (Re: Monday morning of this week, when I slept until 8 and then, basically, through the rest of my day.) Typically, by the time I’m up and out of bed, I realize that I should have just sucked it up and run.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. A healthy lifestyle really is all about routine. If you allow yourself to pick and choose when and where to do something good for your body, the sad reality is that you’ll probably just choose to sit on the couch and watch a marathon of Law & Order or Breaking Bad. I know I have.
These days, save for the few “rest” days I allow myself to take, my morning runs are as habitual as opening my eyes, brushing my teeth, and going to the office. They’re as expected as breakfast, sometimes hated as much as my alarm, but respected, like a good sweater in fall. In short, they’re known. They’re (typically) unsurprising. They’re natural and a welcome addition to my daily routine.
You don’t have to be a runner. As a former hater of the sport, I’m the first to tell you that learning to run and “getting into it” is actually a really big challenge. When I first started, I set small goals; “Run to the stop sign,” or “Run to the Starbucks down the street.” Small goals eventually become too easy though and turn into larger, loftier ambitions. But if you can keep it reasonable to start, I think you can learn to love running too.
Setting fall workout goals? Herein, these are my top 10 reasons to fit running into yours.
1. Pretty pennies. Being cooped up in a sweaty room of strangers is definitely not my thing, so why would I pay to do so? Running is, for the most part, free. The biggest expenses are sneakers, good chafe-less shorts and races if you happen to get into that scene.
2. Be in nature. This is especially important if you live in a city. Between the concrete streets and a largely sedentary professional life, it is essential for me to get outdoors for 30 to 60 minutes every morning.
3. Awesome swag. I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately, but running clothes are kind of cool! Right now, I’m pretty stoked to get this Janji zip-up in preparation for fall.
4. Fuel. Runners tend to use the word “fuel” lightly. Cookie? Perfect, I needed to reload on sugar after the race anyway. French fries? Awesome, salt will help me to hydrate.
But running also inspires you to fuel with healthful ingredients. This season, I’ve been experimenting with the vegetables from my dad’s garden by making lots of homemade tomato sauces.
6. And running friends.
7. Time saver. Because I have no patients for packing bags or walking to and from a gym or other fitness studio. And I certainly don’t like hopping on the subway.
8. Sanity! And it seems like I’m not alone in this endeavor. After throwing the question “why do you run” out into the twitterverse, many of you responded that you do it for mental clarity too.
9. Seasons. Every running season is so incredibly different than the last, and it’s amazing to feel those nuanced differences from one month to the next.
10. It’s an amazing workout. Never in my life have I been consistently in such great shape as after I started running. I may not have a six-pack (because I’m too lazy to tack on crunches), and I might not have Gwyneth Paltrow’s arms (because I am not 8 ft. and blonde). But I am generally happy with my body because I know that each day, I do something good for it. And if that means there’s still a little roll here or spill-over there, it’s nothing to freak out about. When you run every day, it’s hard not to be proud of how you look and feel.
OKAY peoples, what did I miss? What are your top three reasons for running? Go!