Over the years I have to admit I’ve taken my running for granted. It’s always been there, all you need to do is lace up your trainers and off you go. Call up some friends, agree the time and place then enjoy a physical, social and sensory couple of hours. If you read no further than this opening paragraph, enjoy your running, embrace it, make the most of it but never take it for granted.
Over the last year I’ve had a string of injuries, interruptions and frustrations that have meant inconsistent training. That last sentence isn’t meant to sound like I’m looking for sympathy, naturally there are thousands of people who would love to exercise but it’s beyond them. I simply have to wait for strains to heal and try to manage my commitments better.
However, when running has been a part of your weekly life for over thirty years these inactive spells become more frustrating with each occurrence. We don’t have to run, no one is telling us to, we simply have a desire and a need to run. In many ways when you aren’t running it’s a case of changing your goals rather than giving up on them.
After falling and injuring back muscles four weeks ago I’ve progressed with physio, mobility stretching and lots of walking. With it being January I’ve also stopped drinking alcohol for a month and tried to increase my water intake, after all, if I’m missing out on burning 200/300 calories an hour, these will be positive steps while biding my time until a return to full fitness.
Clearly when you’re sidelined there’s an element of FOMO, yes, the fear of missing out but along with the running highs that our chosen hobby gives us there are so many elements that we don’t consider while we are fit and well.
Your focus and health are greatly improved when active but conversely your mind, immune system and mood can be negatively effected when you aren’t, this can then contribute to a reduction in your “get up and go”. This sluggish feeling inevitably makes us unhappy, stressed and grumpy. The next phase that follows this could well be a loss of self esteem and even confidence, both of which, could eventually trigger depression.
Our sleeping habits can be effected due to us not having used up our energy through the day. Rest is necessary for life generally as well as recovering from sporting activities. Getting into bed knowing you’ve been out that day or you have a run planned for the morning means you finish off that evening happy.
Even the very basics of running help you with your heart and lungs working hard to supply extra oxygen to your muscles. We need to try and hold onto this triple benefit if possible.
So, while we are trying to cope with a lack of serotonin and endorphins, consider ways to apply yourself rather than dwell on being disappointed, it’s better to try and channel your efforts with good habits.
In recent weeks I haven’t run so instead I’ve walked most days. You still breath in that stimulating fresh air and have a sense of achievement by getting a sweat on. Walking might be slower than running but it’s still helping your metabolism, burning calories and provides a cumulative motivation. Being determined and following it through works the same regardless of whether you are running at speed or walking steadily.
I’ve noticed that even in smaller doses the effort you put in is rewarded by rejuvenating your spirit. I’ve reached my 4 m.p.h. target and today I jogged two miles.
Twenty two minutes of jogging brought me huge satisfaction and ought to pave the way to my measured return. As an incentive I’m holding off wearing my new road shoes until I jog 5K which should be fairly soon now.
As part of my positive approach I also spectated at Stubbington 10K so that meant I felt part of our local running community. Seeing lots of familiar faces meant I left with a big smile on my face from joining in, with clapping and words of encouragement.
I’ve been watching adventure videos on youtube to inspire me and from this I intend to try and combine some camping and running in 2023. This added dimension wouldn’t necessarily have crossed my mind if I hadn’t been sidelined and looking for motivation. I particularly like Loyd Purvis with his Run 4 Adventure, Paul Coates videos (a good friend of mine) and the Film My Run channel with Steve Cousins.
For this running and outdoor footage don’t sit on the couch, exercise while you watch, so as to feel part of that running community spirit. While viewing you can stretch, bend, twist and add strength exercises like squats and knee lifts, depending on what has stopped you running.
In summary, don’t take your running for granted, in many ways running is a lifestyle that provides you with endless benefits. Once you’ve bought your kit then it’s essentially free (well almost) and remember the physical and mental activity that you engage in today will stand you in good stead for tomorrow, whether tomorrow is twenty four hours away or ten years away.
Keep it going, use it or loose it and when life gets in the way of your running, take a step back and consider your options, reassess what you can control and get back on track.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your running in 2023.