I run…and more often than not, it’s a positive experience. Running is good for you–we all know that. It’s not only good for you physically, but it has a very therapeutic quality as well. My first year of teaching was a solid reality check, and to say that I was under-prepared is quite accurate. That year, I signed up eight months in advance for the Rock N’ Roll half-marathon in New Orleans. I used to tell myself on my long runs that if I could deal with that third class of terrifyingly challenging kids, then I could certainly make it through this run. That year, running provided me with a daily opportunity to sort out what happened each day and how I would most certainly not get so frustrated with the kids tomorrow.
Upon reflection, I like running. Don’t ask me mid run. And I will never be on the same page as those
mutants running enthusiasts who run six or seven days a week. Some weeks I enjoy 3 or 4 runs combined with strength training. Other weeks, I’m just really not in the mood to run. Today, I did not want to run. I didn’t sleep well, I woke up early, and once Ryan left for work all I wanted to do was get back in the bed and go to sleep. But I also have two papers due on Monday. Write a paper or go run? I tried to talk myself out of it. I began with my typical I’ll run later thought process, which was promptly crushed by the mid-morning thunderstorm warning lurking at the bottom of the TV screen. Then I told myself that I didn’t have time for a 30 minute run because those two papers were due Monday, and losing 30 minutes would truly be a tragedy. So I opened my computer, re-read what I wrote yesterday about Rachel Carson, and got up to put my running shoes on. I didn’t want to write that paper either, so today running won.
Don’t you hate those articles that tell you “Getting out the door is the hardest part! Just lace up those shoes and you’re 90% there!” Unbelievably false. I could still just walk. I could make it to the bottom of the stairs and turn around. I could walk to Dunkin Donuts. Today really wasn’t my day, but I managed to push through it. If you’ve made it out the door (congratulations) but you’re still feeling like going for a run would too closely resemble torture, don’t let your sluggish state bring you down. Even if you don’t run the whole time, you can throw in bursts of speed that will actually help you improve your stride and average speed. Here are a few tips and tricks that I tried out on my run today:
NUMBER 1: Bring music. It really helps, until that Waka Flocka song you hate comes on.
I was listening to Pandora Fitness, which is a great station if you need fast-paced songs throughout your workout. But it’s a real bummer when that song you hate comes on. So here’s how I handled it. I pictured myself racing Waka Flocka Flame at the end of the Greek Fest race in City Park. I won. He lost.I cheered, internally. Don’t be afraid to actually cheer ( or at least crack a smile). Other people on the path may think you’re nuts, but now you’re having more fun than they are. (You can apply this same strategy to anyone who’s not your favorite person. Yes, it’s weird, but no one will know.)
NUMBER 2: See that person in front if you on the sidewalk? Don’t let him win.
Now this sounds ridiculous, but no one can read your mind so it’s really okay. Look up at the people in front of you on the sidewalk. You’re better than at least one of them, I promise. The race is on, and you’re going to win because that unknowing individual isn’t expecting you to fly past them in an imaginary race.
NUMBER 3: There’s a wasp and I hate wasps.
This tip is brought to you by the enormous wasp (or bee…I didn’t feel the need to get a closer look) that followed me all the way across the bayou bridge. I accidentally brushed up against some flowers, and a waspbeemonster followed me. Nothing will make you run faster than fear, especially childish fear.
NUMBER 4: Take your mind somewhere completely different.
This one isn’t bizarre unless your wandering mind gets a little weird. One of my favorite songs to run along with is Usher’s Yeah. When that song comes on, (please don’t judge too harshly) I simply pretend I’m up on stage with him at a concert doing some super complicated, fancy choreography. TRY IT. If Britney is your thing, I’m sure your imagination can come up with some fantastic Vegas costume and choreography combos. The song will be over before you know it, and you just ran for 4 minutes completely forgetting where you were.
NUMBER 5: If your run still didn’t go well, throw in something challenging at the end.
I felt good about my run today. I had a steady average pace with random bursts of speed when I was mentally chasing someone down or running away from a bug. There was one last obstacle to overcome. The end of any run along Buffalo Bayou always presents a challenge because there are some daunting sets of stairs where at least one person with a total of 5% body fat is sprinting up and down like a maniac. I didn’t feel the need to add anything too intense, so I ran up and down twice and went on my way, leaving the stairs to those who enjoy suffering.
And that concludes my strange collection of running tips. I’m not a physical trainer or a coach (heads up, neither are Shape, Fitness, and Women’s Health Mag), so I probably won’t ever suggest a particular training program. I’ve never followed one, myself.
After my run today, I did a quick strength set:
15 push ups
20 supermen (Lay on your stomach with your arms above your head. Arch your back, lifting your arms and legs at the same time, and try your best to resemble a flying superman. Seriously. Lower back down and repeat).
15 crunches/bicycles/leg raises, whatever ab work you’re in the mood for
Repeat above exercises 4x each
Before I leave you with this inspiring video of a 5 foot, 100lb gymnast who completed an amazing feat, let me pose a question:
What does it take to get you outside or to the gym when you’re feeling sluggish? Don’t be afraid to be completely honest =) To comment, scroll ALL the way down.