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Running clears your mind and refreshes your hope
In these times, when for many of us one of the few acceptable reasons to NOT shelter at home is exercise, running is a great way to nurture your soul and refresh your spirit.
I wasn't a runner, in fact I hated it. But now I find it a great relief to run each day. When I'm stuck for an idea, or confused about where we are all headed in this coronavirus crisis, running really helps get back my perspective.
It can for you too.
Our opportunities to relax are limited. For example in Australia we are currently restricted as below.
'Stay at home' and 'Restricted activities' directions
Can I leave the house during the Stay at Home period?
No. Although there are some exceptions. You may leave your home during this period:
Just yesterday a teenage Learner Driver was fined $1600 for going out for a lesson with her mum. Police deemed leaving the house for a driving lesson to be an unacceptable reason. (They later dropped the fine because of "lack of clarity of the rule" but made it clear that fines would applied in the future now that the rule is clarified.)
Police drop fine issued to teen L-plater caught driving with her mum during COVID-19 lockdown
One of the few acceptable reasons for leaving our homes is "for exercise". That's good news, not just from the point of view of exercise, but also because exercise helps us clear our minds and refresh.
I try to go out 3 times each day, twice to walk 4km and once to run 4km.
If you haven't considered running, then I encourage you to think about it. Running invokes a type of primordial feeling - a kind of primitive satisfaction in powering yourself along purely with your own strength.
Every improvement is down to your own fortitude, and every one is a personal achievement.
With achievement comes self-respect and a feeling of self-worth - Claire Kowalchik, Running for Women.
I hated running until I was 70. At Xmas time 2017, my gym went onto a reduced timetable, and none of the available classes appealed to me. It popped into my head that I should try running - much to my own surprise!
Now I'm a regular runner.
I wouldn't pretend that I liked running immediately, I just slogged it out. I could feel a nice effect on my body - on the form of my legs, and the leaning out of my hips and thighs. But I didn't really enjoy it.
After 6 months, I started to get into the swing of it, and even look forward to twice a week. I build up to running 5km twice a week.
I started to wonder how fast I was running, but I didn't want to pay for a fancy fitness band, nor monthly subscription. Then, as Xmas 2008 approached Runtastic offered a 40% annual discount, and I signed up.
That was a blessing, and a curse. I found that I was running quite fast - for my age at least (71) - and always managed under 25 minutes for the 5km. I always run on a trail with lots of turns bends and hazards - so averaging 5min / km is good.
The curse was that I started going out every time with a goal to beat my best time. I achieved some good runs - down to 4:30 / km for the 5km, but I started to sustain injuries.
Now I have slowed down and run to not injure myself rather than to beat my times. That's been very important during the lockdown, as I run every day now - a shorter distance of 4km each day.
Running gives you energy, confidence and clears your head
Like me, you can start small - I started jogging just 2km. Then I built up little by little to running 5km with strength and confidence.
In the uncertainty of today, running will bring you the following benefits.
Gives You Energy
It gives you energy. This sounds counterintuitive, but being energetic gives you energy. Conversely, slouching about leads to a gradual decline in your energy and "you just can't be bothered". Running boosts your energy and your mental alertness.
Boost Your Mood
It boosts your mood. Running outdoors brings relief of tension, especially if you are running in a natural setting, e.g. a park, or beach or forest. As you start to feel nature, you will feel your stress dissolve. You'll be in a brighter, more optimistic mood when you arrive back home.
Makes You Feel Good
The release of endorphins when you run make you feel good. This is the so-called "runners high". It is not just the feeling of connecting with nature, but a real stimulus in your brain which reduces your pain and stimulates feelings of pleasure. You don't have to run fast to feel this - you just have to keep running.
Clears Your Head
It clears your head and clarifies your big issues and their potential solutions.
That's because when you are running, you gradually learn to let your mind become part of the motion and experience of running. When you do that, the noisy chatter in your conscious mind quietens. You become a being moving in the present.
This releases your mind from the chains of your future worries and past regrets, and it applies its power to solving your present issues - without you overthinking and confusing it.
The answers will emerge as you run, and when you get home. This happens to me every time I run. Sometimes for such a simple thing as what topic I should write about on Medium today!
Give running a go
If you have been thinking about running, then I encourage you to give it a go. Just count down 5-4-3-2-1, warm-up, and start. Map a path, or a time, and then gradually add distance or time.
If you have no thought about running, then I encourage you to reflect on the benefits it could bring you. We all need all the support we can get at this time, especially to clear our heads and keep our perspective.
Let me know how you go.
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Since I was diagnosed at 50 with Type 2 diabetes I've been learning how to do bone-building fitness training which lowers my age. You can too. It's your choice. Walter