Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fun Runs.

A few years ago I placed first in my age group for the Whiskey Row 10K... my claim to fame. I had trained pretty seriously for months and my hips had taken a beating from running six miles several times a week. After opting out of an MRI and taking [lots of] time off from running, I turned to other sources for cardio. 
Ellipticals were my jam and I was pretty dedicated to my relationship with them for over two years. The only problem with the ellipticals were that they lived at the gym. The type of gym that stays open 24 hours a day and is filled with plastic women and meat-headed men. I hated said gym. I had to drag myself there. On more than one occasion I had driven there only to sit in my car and whine to myself until I would put the car in reverse and go back home. 
Finally, in June, I ended my contract with that soul-sucking place, taking a ridiculous hit from cancellation fees and membership fees and hidden fees galore. But it was worth it, I was free! So I signed up for unlimited yoga through my favorite neighborhood studio and have been going religiously ever since. Unfortunately, I had little to no cardio in my weekly routine before I decided it was time to start running again. 
Let me just say, I had never loved running. I enjoyed the challenge, the benefits, and the competitive side of it but I rarely looked forward to my runs. Until I turned them into Fun Runs. I started these runs with my roommate when we still lived in Arizona. We'd go to the local high school and race each other around the track or up the stairs. From there we'd run through the surrounding neighborhoods saying "sprint to that yellow mailbox" or "I'll race you to that stop sign." It was a blast. And we still have fun runs when our schedules allow. But when he's not available, I take myself out for a fun run. I realized that if I stopped mapping my distances or timing my miles, I actually enjoyed the run. 

Here's how I do it:

1. Beat the Heat - Texas has been a very hot 102 degrees or higher for the past few weeks. After a horrible experience running during the hottest part of the day, I've learned to beat the heat. Run early in the morning or well after the sun has gone down. The roads are usually quiet, the sprinklers are usually on, and the temperatures are usually perfect. 

2. Rainy Runs - Just before or just after a rain is one of my favorite times to get out there. If you're lucky enough to have an opportunity to run in the rain, do it. If you don't smile through most of it, then I can't help you. 

3. Music is Everything - Make a playlist, please! Nothing can ruin a run faster than a bad song sneaking up on you. AND if you have Spotify Premium, you have to try the Running tab. It syncs a techno beat to your pace and it's hilarious. I had a super energetic run to the Blissed Out beat. Try it! If anything,  you'll laugh.

4. Treat yourself - Make your run special. Some mornings I'll take myself down to Town Lake to run while the sun comes up. Or I'll take the extra scenic route around the neighborhood. And on every single run, I snag a sprig from the rosemary bushes that I pass. If you rub it back and forth in your palms, your hands smell amazing for your entire run. If you ever start to feel like shit on your run, cover your face and inhale deeply. I bet that you'll feel less like shit after that. 

5. Bring a Friend - Runs are always more fun with a friend. I recommend someone who has a similar stride or pace than you. Challenge each other, make a game out of it, and catch up with each other's latest. If you don't have any friends, make some at a run club. I win free merchandise and drink discounted beer after my run club runs!

6. Don't time yourself. Unless you like to. But I find it unnerving to hear that voice interrupt my music just to tell me how much better my mile was yesterday. Just go, and run, and don't think about how far or how fast you're going. Just enjoy the time you've set aside for yourself, enjoy the capability and strength of your body, and enjoy your run. 

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