Tips for the Perfect Run: May Not be What you Think
Since college, running has always been my outlet. My relationship with is has changed over the years. When I first started, I used running as a way to burn calories from the dreaded freshmen 15. It became an obsessive part of my day and I would get on a treadmill and watch the number of calories burned. When I signed up for my first 5k and started running outside, my relationship with running changed.
Running became an outlet, my moving meditation and I began to find a massive amount of respect for the strength of my body. I got focused on running races, strength training and competing. I felt great putting in the work, counting down the miles, getting faster and collecting medals from various races, even marathons. Recently my relationship with running has changed again. Its not about burning calories or being stronger, its about showing up for myself. Its about having a positive outlet to channel self doubt, frustration and fear. I have spent years coaching people on how to improve their nutrition for better running outcomes and feel like I have overlooked an important part of the equation. So now I want to share with you my latest tips for experiencing the perfect run.
1. Let Go – First and foremost we need to let go of the idea of a perfect run. Yes we have all experienced them and they are amazing, but for every perfect run there is going to be a crappy one. Its part of being a runner and a human for that matter. I have let the fear of not having a perfect run actually stop me from going out and running. My mind starts racing, “I didn’t eat the right foods,” “I didn’t drink enough water today,” “I haven’t gone to the bathroom,” “I only slept a couple hours,” “I don’t want to get out of bed,” and the list goes on. These thoughts have kept me from putting on my shoes and instead allowed me to sit with fear. Even if you go out for a mile or half a mile, just getting your shoes on, going out the door and doing something that you know will make you feel better, is deliciously empowering. Get on the positive wagon.
2. Smile – We run because we love the way it makes us feel. When you smile it changes the game. Your pain becomes pleasure and those feel good hormones start pumping through your blood. With a smile on your face, you might even make someone else feel good about their run when they see you. Instead of grimacing through the discomfort of a run, or asking yourself why did I do this to myself, try smiling through it. I promise its a game changer.
3. Forgo your Form (just for a minute) – I went on a run the other day and saw this woman running with her arms out like she was about to take off and fly. My initial reaction was, whaaat, and then I thought, wow she looks so incredibly happy and light. I attempted to recreate her form and let me tell you, I felt amazing. It brought a little spark of joy back into my run that I had lost being so fixated on my form, posture and foot placement. Remember, having fun is just as important as going on the run, if we lose the joy portion of the run, we lose our motivation for running.
4. Show up for YOU – I have often struggled with the WHY of running. I have done it for vain reasons, I have done it to please others, and now I am doing it for me. What that means is I do not have a regimented schedule. I don’t plan out a routine with my running, I go when I want to and this has allowed me to bring some joy back into my running. When I put on my sneakers and hit the pavement, its because I want to and that is a beautiful thing. This is not to say that you shouldn’t train for races or have a schedule with your running, I am just sharing where I am at currently and how I am getting back to my WHY. I am excited to do another race sometime in the future.
5. Find your Community – Sometimes you need to run alone and sometimes you need other people. I have met some truly amazing people in my running community that continue to inspire me on a daily basis. With social media being such a huge part of our lives, its easy to become isolated. Having people to hold you accountable, to make you laugh, to give some positive reinforcement and most importantly to guard you while you go to the bathroom behind some sketchy bushes, is the best part of running with a community. Some great communities I have found are the Coyotes, DTLA Running Group, A Runners Circle.
6. Channel that Negative Energy – Feelings are essential trapped energy in the body. The best way I have found to manage negative emotions and release this trapped energy is running. When I get overwhelmed or frustrated my first instinct is to find the closest person to me and complain. Then I like to really sit with some good old self pity and finally if I can hold on to long enough, I eat sugar until I feel sick. Well guess what, at the end of all that I don’t feel better, I usually feel worse emotionally and bloated physically. Running has become my outlet, the most productive way I can deal with emotions and come out on the other end feeling amazing.
Lets redefine what is means to have a perfect run because most of the time its beyond what you feel physically. Its about showing up for yourself, using running as a method to channel negative emotions and walk out on the other side of your run feeling filled with joy! So lets try and do that, when the negativity starts to hover, kick it in the ass by putting on your shoes, incorporating these tips and hitting the pavement. I bet you will feel better!
I would love to hear why you RUN and what it does for you!