For something that requires so much energy and effort and can leave you feeling exhausted and completely out of breath, running may seem like an odd activity to really truly enjoy, dare we even say, to love.
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And yet, tens of thousands of Canadians run regularly for their health, fitness and well-being.
What then is it about running that keeps us coming back for more and how can you harness the seemingly endless multitude of benefits running has to offer?
1. Set goals. As with any pursuit, it’s important to set short and long term goals to work for. Whether it’s running three days a week for a month, preparing for your first half marathon or setting a new 10K PB, goals provide us with purpose and direction. Goals should be both ambitious and challenging but also realistic and achievable. They should also be specific, measurable and have a clear timeline for completion.
2. Have a plan. Once you’ve set some goals, the next step is to formulate a plan or strategy in which to achieve them. Creating a running/training program for yourself, or asking for help from a friend, coach or mentor, is the best way to stay motivated and committed to your goals. You don’t need to obsess over all the details, but planning in advance when you’ll run as well as where and how far, will help you go through with it and provide some much needed structure upon which to adhere.
3. Share it. Running is mostly a solitary sport/activity but it doesn’t have to be. Running buddies, training partners, meet-up runs and run clubs/crews can make running fun and adds a highly enjoyable social element. Running with others also creates accountability and provides a constant source of inspiration and motivation as well as friendly competition. The running community is one of the friendliest around so it shouldn’t be hard to find some soon-to-be friends to welcome you to their network.
4. Enjoy it. As unlikely as it may seem some days, running can be inherently enjoyable and is known to produce intense, if only occasional, feelings of joy, happiness and satisfaction. It’s essential to always find ways to make your running fun. Find new routes, travel to new places, make new friends, and try running faster and farther than you have before.
5. Celebrate yourself. All the time, energy and effort that running requires will inevitably mean you’ll have to make sacrifices elsewhere, but ultimately you’ll likely come to accept and appreciate that it’s worth it. Running provides a plethora of physical, mental and social benefits that carry over into many others aspects of life. Be proud of your commitment to running and the accomplishments you achieve through it. Reward yourself from time to time and don’t be afraid to slip up or make mistakes. No matter what happens, running will always be there for you if you let it.