Summer and Running

Can you believe it’s mid- August and the long awaited summer will soon be coming to an end? Sometimes I just can’t get over how quickly time goes by! I remember when it was just starting to heat up, and how great it felt to ditch the coat and boots from the freezing winter, simply slip on flip flops and leave the house. I looked forward to the late nights, cold beers, good times with friends and family, and the HOT, sunny weather. Lately it’s been 90+ degrees and extremely humid here in Chicago, and the Fall season is starting to sound pretty good. Sure, another summer full of festivals, concerts, fresh produce, and travels is soon coming to an end. But of everything I did, I think the one thing that will mark this summer apart from the rest in my mind is how much I got into running. And how happy I was that I did.

I’ve heard before that running can change your life. Now, I wouldn’t go that far personally, but I can understand where those people are coming from. Running clears your head. It helps to release endorphins. Heard of a runners high? It’s real. And it’s amazing.

I read this quote the other day, “Life is about creating yourself. Not for finding yourself.”, and now I can’t stop repeating it in my head. I believe that each person has it in them to make themselves into (pretty much) exactly the person they want to be. If you think you can’t be a runner, think again. You can! I think the thought of running intimidates people, because they think that if they don’t run 3 + miles, they’re not running enough. False. Running is most definitely rough on our bodies. Especially if we’re carrying around any extra weight, running is painful! It’s hard! But you can get over that. Just start slowly.

I just came across this article which describes a challenge to turn yourself from a couch potato to a runner. Of course I know that’s an extreme for most. Sure, most people do some physical activity every week, and many see results which is great! But if you haven’t given running a shot, it’s something to consider. Not only for physical health, but it can do wonders for you mentally.

I decided to compile some thoughts for you on how to become a runner. Of course, just based on personal experience…here goes!

1. Dicipline.  Training for the half marathon has taught me a dicipline that I haven’t needed to experience since high school sports. The difference? I was self motivated. I wanted to complete a half marathon for me. Not for a team, not to get credit for an extracurricular activity, or anything else. How did I achieve dicipline? I learned the importance of early morning work-outs. That’s right. Get it out of the way before you start your day. Not only will you have a nice runners high going for a while (which mixes great with some black coffee!), but you won’t be weighed down by the workout that you should do after work. I don’t know about you,  but when I put my workout off, I’m too tired when it comes around and I find just about every excuse in the book to not work out. Days off turn into weeks, and before I know it I’m in a work-out-less rut that is near impossible to escape. Working out in the morning is hard at first, sure. But what isn’t? It takes getting used to, getting into the habit, and before you know it you’ll be excited (for real!) to get out of bed and have a nice sweaty run before the chaos of the day begins. Plus, early mornings are such a peaceful time of day, when there are few cars out, and more birds chirping than usual. And people you pass are friendly- they wave- and smile! How’s that for a change!

2. Eat right.I know runners are all different, but personally I can’t wake up to run if I ate greasy food the night before. I just wouldn’t feel right. Real, natural, unprocessed, healthy ingredients are what fueled my daily work-outs, and made me feel great all the way through. I learned about new tecniques and new ingredients that I had never seen or experienced before. Eating and preparing my meals became fun! The other thing is to stop eating late at night. There’s nothing worse than waking up on a full stomach. In contrast, there’s nothing better than waking up hungry. I like to have a good, hearty breakfast every morning. It’s what gets me out of bed.

3.Put on your workout clothes as soon as you wake up! Do this. Seriously, you have no idea how much this helps! Have your ipod, inhaler, socks, shoes, shorts, bra, tank- whatever else you need- ready and on before you go eat your breakfast. Once it’s on, you’ll at least do something active!

4. Drink a ton of water! When I wake up, I drink 2 big glasses. And all day? Probably 6 more.

5. Supplement your running. Don’t just run. Instead, I’d focus on running 2 or 3 days. Bike, walk, or swim 2 days. And do some pilates/yoga/weight training/stretching the others. Keep it interesting so you never get bored. And tone different body parts every other day. Your body will thank you, as well as your mind.

6. Listen to your body. Sure, we all have those days when we just don’t feel like working out. We’re tired, feeling a bit run down, whatever. Take a day off. And appreciate your days off! Relax, sleep, but still eat right! You’ll find you’re ready to get back into it the next day.

7. Don’t give up. This isn’t a diet. It’s not a get-fit-quick hoax. It’s a lifestyle change. Getting up early, eating right, being happy, feeling your BEST! If you’re looking to drop pounds, you can expect you’ll do that, but slower than most diets you’ve tried. But guess what? The pounds will stay off! Your metabolism will speed up. You’ll gain confidence. You’ll find you’re actually eating more than before, and enjoying your food much much more than before. Win win!

Well, that’s my advice, and what I learned this summer.  Start slow. And stick with it!

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