The thought of running can be an anxiety-filled and intimidating exercise for most people. If you find yourself in this very large group of people, don’t worry, I’m here to tell you: you’re not alone. I’m also here to tell you that running doesn’t have to bring anxiety-filled thoughts, in fact, running can be quite euphoric.
If you’ve never taken up running on a regular basis, and you want to take up the exercise with the goal of working up to running a marathon, trust me when I say … it’s more than possible. Take me as a living — still running — example.
I was about five feet eight inches tall, self-concious, 16 years old, 190 pounds, with a body fat percentage of about 33 per cent when I started running. I went out for a two-kilometre run at the local high school track in Brampton to start my life-changing relationship with running. Actually, I didn’t fall in love with it at all. I didn’t make it through the first kilometre without feeling nauseous.
Despite this, I continued to run solely to fulfill my commitment to losing weight and the workout and nutrition routine I crafted in order to do so. I still found myself hating running. I found it boring and found common runners pain (i.e. hips, knees, and shins) unbearable at times.
Where am I going with this? Well, even though I was losing weight and getting in shape, I knew this wasn’t going to be sustainable if I didn’t find a fitness plan I love.
The problem with my early relationship with running was not the fact I hated running, but the fact that I saw running as a means to an end: I only did it to lose weight, not to get healthier and stronger. Once I changed my mindset, my unhealthy and unsustainable relationship with running reached a turning point for the better. I learned how to love running. I made incremental, performance-based goals instead of body/scale-centric goals.
My body weight didn’t matter as much, and I made a conscious effort to running farther, at a faster pace. What caused this shift in mindset? Easy, signing up to long-distance running races. It not only sets a deadline and/or checkpoints to check-in on your progress, but it’ll also keep you goal-oriented, and if your competitive spirit drives you, it will help you meet your goals.
With this shift in mindset, fall weather runs outdoors, a great playlist, three half-marathons (21 km), and one full-marathon (42 km) later, I found my runner’s high. I’m sure you will too, just do it for the right reasons and trust the process.