From 0 to 500km in 4 Months 🏃♂️
SimonSays #14 - "Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest" Haruki Murakami
While there are many benefits to remote work, a clear downside is that you can quickly become sedentary if you’re not cautious. To prevent my daily activity from being limited to walking from my bed to my desk, I started running. Running was not entirely new for me. I was somewhat used to running in the past, whether as a warm-up when I played sports or on Sunday evening jogs with friends. However, I had never run by myself. 500 kilometers later, I decided to take the time to reflect on my journey and share what I learned.
Just Get Out There & Run 🏃♂️
There’s an infinite number of obstacles and excuses which could prevent you from running. The main obstacle you’ll have to overcome (at the risk of sounding cliché) is yourself. It’s so easy to find excuses - you’re tired, busy, don’t have time, the list goes on… It’s pretty amazing how self-convincing the mind can be when finding excuses. Think about the difference between when you set your alarm clock before going to sleep and when you end up waking up in the morning after snoozing it 3 times.
Therefore, you should do as much as you can to remove those obstacles. A good tip I used was preparing my running clothes before I went to bed (if I ran in the morning). I would also recommend having comfortable running equipment (shoes, shorts, sweatpants, sweatshirt), anything where you feel just comfortable wearing them, and you almost want to wear them and get going.
One of the best things about running is the state you’re in once you’ve finished running. To push me when I’m less motivated, I like to think about that state, and it helps to get me going.
Find Your Rhythm 🎼
Once you’ve started running, it’s essential to find your rhythm. In the beginning, I mistakenly adopted a pace that was too high: (4:30 – 4:45mins/km). By running at this pace, I was wasting way too much energy, and after 3km, every step felt like a real challenge. While this is not an issue in itself, it prevented me from enjoying the run and sustaining my effort on longer distances.
One day I had a breakthrough. I started slower (4:50 mins/km) and sustained my effort for 12km. It changed the whole experience.
Therefore, finding your rhythm is key!
Listen To Something Nice🎙
The first piece of running equipment I bought was an armband, to be able to take my phone and my keys with me while running. Thanks to my phone, I could now record my run and listen to something. I started by listening to podcasts and audiobooks (what I usually do when commuting). Yet, I quickly realized that it was hard to stay focused on an audiobook when I struggled with the run. So, I switched to music and noticed that it helped me increase my stamina.
However, after my “breakthrough”, I struggled less with my run and could return to audiobooks and podcasts. I find them particularly useful because they prevent me from overthinking my run. Indeed, when running, I tend to focus too much on my pace, on the number of kilometers I’ve run, on the difficulty, etc. Listening to something offers a distraction.
However, not all audiobooks or podcasts appear suited for this exercise. I think stories work particularly well in this context. My last audiobooks were Obama’s 29-hour long, A promised land, read by Obama himself and Bob Iger’s (former CEO of The Walt Disney Company) autobiography, The ride of a lifetime.
While this content works very well for me, I know this is not suited for everyone. For example, a friend of mine cannot listen to anything while running and prefers to be fully immersed in the environment around him. Most of my friends, on the other hand, prefer running with music.
Record (& Share?) Your Runs 📱
As mentioned before, one of the benefits of running with my phone was that it allowed me to record all of my runs on Strava. Strava is an app that enables you to record your activities and share them with your friends. This app was a game-changer. By seeing my friends’ runs, I was encouraged both consciously and unconsciously to run more, further, and/or faster. It exercised a positive pressure on me and held me accountable if I ran less.
However, as with any social network, you should prevent sharing from becoming the main objective (check out my article on Instagram here). Indeed, Strava can easily shift the joy from running to that of sharing thus making you focus on the end goal rather than the process.
Set Challenges 🏆
Some people need challenges to find motivation. A typical example is people signing up for a race and then starting to run to be ready for the race.
Setting challenges is an excellent way to stay motivated. Any challenge works! You can aim to run x kilometers, x meters elevation, x days per week, at x minutes per kilometer etc. One of my drives at first was running more km every week than the previous one. Another one was running at least 5 times a week. Not long ago, I found motivation attempting to run up an iconic mountain in the South of France (the article detailing that journey can be found here)
Any challenge works as long as it gets you going!
Again, Strava can be particularly useful, as there are multiple challenges you can choose from, whether long-term (running 1000km in a year) or shorter-term (running 2000m elevation in a month). Some brands also set challenges on Strava, and accomplishing them allows you to enter a lottery or offers you a discount on gear.
Running is beneficial for your health. However, you won’t be able to transform it into a habit and sustain the motivation if you do not find some pleasure in it. I’ve found it to be a type of meditation where I’m able to escape everything else happening in my life for an hour. I can enjoy the environment around me (especially when I’m lucky to run on the banks of the Seine or in Central Park) and forget about a lot of things, which is particularly enjoyable during a pandemic.
That being said, recent updates in my life have led me to run less in the last months. So maybe it’s time I finish writing this article, stop everything I’m doing and just get out there and run 🏃♂️
If you have any comments, feedback or questions (they’re always greatly appreciated!) feel free to leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter @the_simonpastor !
I really enjoyed sharing this with you, I hope you enjoyed reading about it and I look forward to hearing about your running adventures 🙂
Also, feel free to check out my new website 🚀