I never thought that I would reach this point, but running now makes me genuinely happy. Running has become my escape. I look forward to my runs instead of dreading them like I use to. Nothing compares to that feeling after a long, grueling run. You might feel terrible during the run, but the sense of accomplishment afterwards makes it more than worth it. Running has made me a better person. It’s teaching me discipline, perseverance, and dedication. Running is the best stress reliever I’ve found. It’s better than eating or sleeping when stressed because it’s actually beneficial. Running has become a very unexpected blessing in my life.
The Map My Run app has been my best friend lately. I always take my phone with me on runs so I can listen to music. The app makes keeping track of my pace a breeze. At every mile it announces my distance, average pace, and overall time. I can map out my run before hand on my computer and send it to my phone. Following a preplanned route tells me which roads I need to turn down. If I don’t feel like mapping it out in advance, I can simply press record. Since it keeps track of my distance, I know when I need to turn around and head back to my car. Thank goodness for technology!
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, I’m still a work in progress. Cooking is a skill that I don’t seem to possess which makes eating healthy seem that much harder for me. I always thought it was easier to go grab something at Taco Bell or some other fast food place. Recently, I have been avoiding doing that and opting for a more healthy alternative. SmartOnes frozen dinners have been a great help to me. They’re healthy and easy to prepare. You just have to stick them in the microwave. I’ve dumped the chips and cookies and switched to 100 calorie packs of almonds and low fat string cheese as my go-to snacks. I make sure to eat fruit every day. I’m not much of a vegetable fan, so I drink V8 to give my body its servings of vegetables. These healthier eating habits have greatly improved my performance as a runner. It’s amazing what healthy eating can do for you.
My brothers are usually only good for picking on me and beating up. However, they like to surprise me every once in awhile and actually help me out. I look to Nathan as my running guru since he has more experience than me, and he offered me some wise advice today. “Change must come slowly and methodically.” I believe many people lose sight of this. Pushing too hard too fast can lead to injury, and some people become discouraged and give up if they don’t see results quickly. Becoming fit, becoming a good runner, losing weight, and building muscle are all processes that take time. Hard, consistent work is what will pay off and give the desired results. It won’t happen over night, and if you over do it with the hopes that you’ll see results sooner, you will only injure yourself and set your progress back. You must give your body time to adjust.
For some reason, many people skip breakfast thinking that it’s not a big deal. In reality, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your metabolism, provides you with energy, and even helps your mind. For an athlete, it is even more crucial to begin the day right and provide your body with the protein and fuel it needs. If you have time in the morning to actually cook a healthy breakfast and sit down to eat it, that’s wonderful. If you’re like me, time is not something you have very much of in the mornings. However, that should not be an excuse to skip out on breakfast. Their are an abundance of things you can grab and eat on the go. My go-to breakfast item of choice is a protein Cliff bar and a banana. It provides my body with the nutrients it craves and doesn’t require me to spend time preparing my meal.
Pacing is a common problem that many novice runners struggle with. It is a critical skill that must be developed in order for a runner to maximize their potential on race day. Learning the importance of pacing will really help improve your runs. I use to be terrible at pacing myself. I would always start off too fast which would negatively impact me and cause me to go much slower for the last half of my run. With time and practice, I’ve been honing my pacing skills and it has greatly improved my runs. Proper pacing keeps me from running out of gas before I cross the finish line. It allows me to have enough energy to finish strong and pick up speed toward the end of my runs. Learning to pace yourself is crucial in order to do well once race day comes.
Simply running a few times a week isn’t the only thing you need to do in order to prepare for a race. It’s also important to have a couple of cross training days. Cross training allows the muscles used for running to have a little break while still giving you a workout. It works out different parts of your body, but will still help your overall running performance. There are several different activities you could do for cross training. My brother, Nathan, prefers biking. He does both mountain biking and road biking. I usually bike or sometimes even just do a workout video. I’m looking forward to the summer so I can start swimming on my cross days. Cross training is great to help your running improve and also to keep your workouts interesting by being able to try different things.