I have never been an athletic guy – I lack the talent and the passion – but for a couple of months now I have found myself hooked on running.
A big obstacle in doing something good for ourselves is time. Life is throwing many things at us and this can sometimes build up stress faster than what can be taken away during the little time we spend relaxing. So without reclaiming some of that time, there is not much that can be done.
I have found three things that are quite effective in removing stress: mindfulness meditation, alcohol and running. Obviously, I don’t recommend alcohol as any kind of solution to a problem; but an occasional (Unless you suffer depression or other clinical conditions. Drinking can also result in an addiction.) glass – in a good company – can create a nice break if you tend to work, or think about work, non-stop.
Mindfulness meditation is much harder and not nearly as fun (group meditation does not strike me as a social activity) but it is healthier. People spend a lot of the time thinking about the future or pondering the past. That is fine since this capability is setting us apart as human beings; but when we overdo it (or do it in a wrong way) we can end up stressed and overwhelmed. So taking a time to calm down, tune into the ‘now’ and simply observe one’s thoughts helps.
The best method for dealing with the stress for me is running. It is extremely efficient in calming the psyche and producing ‘feel good’ hormones; it is the only method of the three that will make you physically fit, it takes about the same time or less, and it is almost as cheap as the meditation. Keeping fit will further help by making you feel better about yourself and boosting your confidence, and it will also lower your sick days and bills.
The running shoes you purchase are obviously the single most important factor for your comfort and running health. Statistically, every other reader of this article has an ‘overpronation’ or ‘underpronation’ – these are not medical conditions to be afraid of but they would make a sustained running schedule painful.
There are stores that will videotape you running on a treadmill (barefoot) and advise you on how much compensation your shoes should give you. This does not mean you need to buy very expensive shoes but it is way more accurate than trying to deduce the pronation from your worn shoes.
There is one other thing that is very important: Keeping it up. Even though you will notice very quickly the positive effects, it is easy to fall back under everyday tasks. To make sure you keep running, get one or more of the following:
- someone else to run with (this is also great because most runs should be done at a pace that allows you to hold a conversation),
- a GPS watch or a nice smart phone application such as Runmeter that allows you to race against the ‘ghosts’ of your previous runs, and keeps overview of the statistics across weeks etc.
- goals such as a time or a distance to achieve in a single run, or maybe a weekly distance or frequency of running; a good long-term goal can be to run a ‘5K’ or a half-marathon.
If you are still reading this, it is time to tie your shoes and get started. See you out there!