REFLECT: Where is the FUN in running?

If you’re like most people, you’d probably love to lose a few kilos, tone up, increase your energy levels and have a more positive outlook on life. Sound familiar? There are so many messages out there, telling us how this can be achieved – and new diet and fitness trends keep emerging. Plus there are the ‘boomerangs’ - the not-so-new trends that have been rebranded. Ultimately, though, they all claim to provide weight loss, vitality, and an all-round healthier body & mind. Think Weight Watchers, 5:2, Liver Cleansing, Quit Sugar, Paleo… the list goes on.

And there are just as many trends in the world of fitness – at the moment, CrossFit and ‘tabatas’ are two of the buzzwords, but I’m sure you recall the days of Step Reebok and Cardiofunk? Personally, I think I’ve tried all of these diets and many fitness fads – probably achieving results. However, they were neither life changing nor sustainable. So, how is it possible to achieve the health benefits that I described above?

Let me tell you my story. About a year after I gave birth to my third baby, I decided to get back into shape – to be fitter, stronger, more toned and more energised. So I started running.  To be clear – I’d never previously been a runner. I’d had my fair share of gym memberships, but at this stage in my life, I needed flexibility: no angst about running late for classes, and minimal time spent commuting. Running seemed the best option.

So I started by attempting one lap of the Tan. Hundreds of people run this track every day. Why couldn't I? I started with 1km and then walked the rest of the lap – and I did this a couple of times a week. Then I kept adding distance. Before I knew it, I was running half a lap, then ¾ of a lap. And then, within a few weeks, I did it - I ran my first lap of the tan without stopping. The sense of personal achievement was addictive. I soon discovered that running gives you vitality. It encourages you to eat well. You’ll lose weight. You’ll have a healthier body and mind. The really good news, though, is that the results are instant. The endorphins kick in, and you’ll discover a zest for life that you knew existed, but couldn’t obtain. You’ll never tire of the sense of personal achievement.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh, but I just don't do running. I’ve never been a runner. Don't you have to be super fit to run? I'm too old to start running…” Trust me, I’ve used all these excuses and more.  Of course, some people have physical constraints and may have been advised not to run – but for most of us, the battle is purely with our mind.

So this is my advice: just give it a go. You don’t need a special skill for this sport – just like you can walk, you can run. The trick is to start with realistic goals and build your fitness. Make running part of your life and the fun will follow. It’s free, so you’ll save money. It’s outdoors, so you’re breathing in fresh air. There are no class times – so it’s easy to fit into your busy schedule. You can do it anywhere – which means that you don’t waste precious time in peak hour traffic, or looking for a car park. All in all, you’ll save time and money.  Plus, you can adjust your run depending on time restrictions and how you’re feeling:  fast, slow, flat or hills. On a running track or just your local streets. You can run alone, or with a friend, or perhaps with a group. You could run to and from work, or even in your lunchbreak. Run to music or enjoy the silence (or the sound of your heavy breathing).  And there are yet more options available: map your run, time it, or just go with the flow. No one cares – this is your personal journey.

With good eating habits and regular running, I had my pre-baby body back in no time. In fact, I’d never felt so slim, strong & healthy – even in my life before kids. With 3 kids under 5, I was time-poor and often exhausted, but I could always find time for a run. It's not a gym class that runs on a timetable, so you don’t put yourself under added pressure – one of the key benefits of exercising is to release stress, so it doesn’t make sense to create extra stress in the process.  

So as you can see, there are many clear benefits – but perhaps you’re not yet convinced about the ‘fun’ in running? Depending on your journey, it can appear in so many ways. It's fun when you…

  • Achieve a healthy mind and body
  • Make new friends from running
  • Prefer to eat healthy food as a consequence of feeling fit through running
  • Shop for clothes when you’re happy with your new body shape
  • Have the energy to keep up with your family’s demands
  • Can actively play sport with your kids
  • Inspire your children by being a healthy and fit mum
  • Participate in your first ‘fun’ run
  • Discover different parts of your local neighbourhood through running
  • Maintain running when you go on holiday
  • Run with a friend and then grab a coffee afterwards
  • Challenge yourself with your running by joining a running group
  • Complete your first 5/10km run
  • Train and complete a half marathon (or perhaps a full marathon – still on my bucket list!)
  • Run your own race

Just do it.

Written by Helen


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