I regularly run with two other women who are building their skill as runners. We meet at least once a week and typically run a 5K though the neighborhood. Watching them develop more strength and confidence as runners over the past few months has been an awesome experience. Last night, one of the women shared that she went for a run alone and lamented that it was not fun. It got me thinking about how running can become enjoyable. A few thoughts came to mind.
1. People. Running with friends is a fantastic way to cream some miles. The peer support of getting through a route and to the finish is very encouraging, especially on the days that you are not likely to go running alone. Knowing you are expected to show up and meet somebody for a run gets you out the door. All parties leave with the satisfaction of adding another drop to their buckets. Win-Win.
2. Solitude. Some of us struggle with sitting meditation (I know I do). Running can present an alternative; a means to hear your own thoughts, clear them systematically, and enjoy the silence. Running can get lonely and boring when you are by yourself, but it can also be an opportunity to indulge in something that is beautiful and just your own. I get this feeling when I am by myself and I have the privilege of running through an exquisite stretch of scenery.Sometimes the chatter of social running takes away from that.
3. Ambition. Any goal, whether it is a faster 5K or running a first marathon, may add energy to the running practice. Races are celebratory awesome experiences. Preparing for one is difficult at times, but also exciting.
4. Consistency. A consistent running practice teaches the mind and body to appreciate running, anticipate the rewards (relaxation, endorphins, mental clarity), and incorporate the exercise into a regular routine. Running is much harder when performed sporadically and infrequently. Regular practice fuels joy by optimizing performance and benefits.
These are just a few of the factors that contribute to the enjoyment of running… there are many more, depending on whatever our individual journeys may be. For example, this morning I ran around the neighborhood pushing my daughter in the jogging stroller. She is three now, and narrating absolutely everything she experiences. There was something deeply grounding about hearing her chirpy little voice, so observant of the present, opening my own eyes to the world around us.