I used to hate running.
Now, it seems like I’m falling in love with it.
I can hardly believe it myself.
So because I want to show you what my keys to success are and also because I would like to get my head around this whole thing, I’m writing it all down.
I’m truly convinced that if I can do it, anyone can.
I am now half way through my 30-Day Challenge that I set myself: Go for a run every day.
Before I was utterly out of shape.. Embarrassing really.
On my first day, I wasn’t able to run for more than 3 minutes. Ridiculous, right?
But I didn’t let that discourage me. So I did 3 minutes of running and 1 or 2 minutes of walking. Two days later I upped it already by 2 minutes of running.
I knew I shouldn’t push myself to hard in order to prevent injury and losing the fun, so I kept increasing my running only very slowly.
Now, two weeks or 15 days into the challenge, I can run for 20 minutes straight, followed by 1 minute of walking and another 8 to 10 minutes of running. Cool, ha?
Well, maybe still pretty pathetic to some regular runners out there, but you know what, I don’t care. I feel like I have made incredible improvements, and I’m proud of myself that I have come from 3 minutes to 20 minutes in only two weeks. That’s almost seven times longer than on day one.
However, as a friend of mine pointed out, it’s not really the best physical strategy to go running every day (injuries, no time for the body to relax and build up strength). This is a reason, why I’m not pushing myself too hard. Sometimes I walk for a minute after 10 minutes already, just because I don’t want to provoke anything.
Once I finish my 30-Day Challenge, I will probably only go running three times a week but then also go a bit harder on myself.
Why am I Doing the 30-Day Running Challenge?
Ok, so some people might ask: Why go through all the misery? Why chose the most boring exercise ever? Yes, I asked myself the same questions before I started. I had never been jealous of any runner I passed on the streets.
I need to move my body
I’m sitting at the desk or on my couch a lot these days, as I’m working to realise some awesome projects before I go off traveling again and I announced 2013 my year of business. Meaning: I want to put in a lot of hard work, to reap the financial benefits in 2014.
However, staring at a laptop screen is poison for my body, hence: move.
Running doesn’t cost a dime. I find that pretty awesome.
I use my supercool Nike Free Run 3 Shoes that I wear on a daily basis, wear boardshorts and a normal t-shirt. So no investment costs either. And no excuse.
I can do it anywhere
No matter where I am, I can go running.
As a travel blogger and digital nomad, this comes in extremely handy.
My body is turning 30 soon
Well, so about that. I’m not going running to lose weight, but to rather tone my body and keep it in shape.
I believe I’m getting closer to an age where my body will slowly degenerate and hence, I’m trying to counter-act that process. Yes, I still wanna look amazing when I’m 75!
Morning Routine Before Starting to Work
I like morning routines. Instead of diving straight into doing stuff on my laptop, I take the time to go outside and move my body.
It’s a great way to start into the day.
Something to turn my head off
I have been having issues with my thinking rollercoaster. It happens, I’m too much in my fucking head.
Running is a way for me to calm my mind and focus on the now, one step at a time.
Turning it into a habit
As it is widely knows, it takes about 21 to 30 days to establish a new habit in life.
So in order to turn running into something that I just do because it is part of my life, I need to kick my own ass for a while.
What are the mid-term results so far?
- My body feels stronger, more toned.
- I’m more in tune with how I feel physically.
- I have more energy.
- I’m more balanced mentally.
What I’ve Learned so Far
1. Doing it in the mornings rather than evenings
For me, the best strategy is to get up in the morning, have some coffee, maybe check my e-mail briefly, then put on my running clothes and head to Tempelhof Park a couple minutes from my house.
Rather than having to think about having to go for a run throughout my day, I get it out of the way in the morning. Plus, it energizes me incredibly and jumpstarts a great day.
2. A great place to go running helps
I’m not sure I could enjoy the running as much as I do now, if I didn’t have this huge, awesome park right outside my house.
There are never too many people (which I find very annoying when having to run through crowded places), it’s big enough to alternate my route, and it’s just this big wide space that makes me feel very free.
It helps that it’s close to home, I don’t think I would take public transport to go running somewhere nice.
3. Stitch is a bitch
I have been having issues with pretty nasty and painful stitches on my right side below the ribs. Some days it appears very quickly after a few minutes, and other days it doesn’t annoy me until minute 20 or 25. Really strange.
Some physiologists have theorized that the common side stitch comes from your stomach and other organs bumping into each other as your feet hit the ground. And others speculate it’s caused when the ligament that attaches your liver to your diaphragm becomes overstretched.
I have noticed that very deep breathing eases the pain sometimes. I have had days though, where I had to stop my run for several minutes, stretch a bit and do breathing exercises before I could commence running.
It’s super annoying actually, and I really hope it will go away soon.
However, to be fair, I believe that running every day is not doing the stitch very good. If the area is irritated, it might just take some time for it to relax again.
One more thing I just read about dealing with a stitch during a run is to touch the ground with the left foot when breathing out. Will have to check that one out.
4. Every Day is Different
It has been very interesting to observe how different my body and every run feels each day.
Not two days in a row have been the same. I feel like I’m a lot more in tune with my body, which makes me notice changes quicker. Love that.
5. Podcast instead of Music
The biggest problem that I have had with running in the past, is that time seems to just not pass. At all.
And music in my earbuds really doesn’t do anything for me, it just makes each song seem like it lasts forever.
But since I love podcasts, I found that listening to them works best, especially some really cool episodes about (Warning: Nerd Attack) Online Marketing, SEO and Nootropics and Neuroscience. They distract me from the actual running, I concentrate on the content of the podcasts and time seems to almost fly now.
I might look into audio books as well at some point and see how they work.
6. Runtastic App
A wonderful little iPhone app that tracks my run (distance, speed etc.) via GPS. E.g. every kilometre it tells how long it has taken me via my earbuds and after each run I fill out how I felt, what the weather was like, what surface I ran on. Pretty cool having statistics like that.
7. Running is meditative
Who knew, right.
Running has become a great way for me to get out of my head and into my body. It’s very meditative and really helps me to calm down mentally.
7. Holding myself accountable is important for my success
Another reason why I turned this running thing into a challenge, is so that I can hold myself accountable and not throw in the towel so quickly and give up.
By telling some of my friends and post status updates on Facebook about my progress, I feel like I can’t just stop this. Good motivator for sure.
All in all, I had no idea what to expect from this 30-Day Challenge and to be fair, I didn’t think I would even make it this far.
And yet, here I am, halfway in.
It has been a really cool ride so far and I’m excited to see how I feel after the next 15 days.
If I can do it, anyone can, I swear.
Good Resources for Beginner Runners
Here are a few posts by Leo Babauta on one of my favorite blogs of all times, Zenhabits, and a couple others:
- The Beginner’s Guide to Running
- The Zen of Running, and 10 Ways to Make it Work for You
- How to Get From Sedentary to Running in 5 Steps
- 100 Beginner Running Tips on Complete Running
- A Complete Guide to Beginning Running on Runners Resource
Are you a runner? What was your experience when you started out? Or maybe you are planning to get into it? Share your thoughts in the comments!