I’ve always hated running. Even more than that, I’ve always hated "enduring" anything — whether it be a situation, an emotion or a relationship that needed to end. In a moment of insanity, I started combining these two hatreds, running and enduring, and I’m a new woman because of it. Last October I started running regularly and it’s been one of the most inspiring, motivating, loving teachers I’ve ever had. Here's why I love it, and how it can be yours too.
1. It allows you to physically step out of your comfort zone.
I get my best ideas when I am running, specifically when I'm kicking my own ass. The more I push myself out of my physical comfort zone, the more my brain and emotions want to move out of theirs, too. Our bodies and brains are intricately connected, always influencing one another. Use it to your advantage!
2. You get "off the grid."
When I start relying too much on the times my GPS watch or run-tracker app feeds me, I ditch the damn thing. Stop allowing things or people measure your worth. The more we look for outside validation, the weaker our internal system becomes. If you don’t practice listening to yourself, you’ll forget how.
3. It'll change the way you talk to yourself.
I just ran my first half marathon in March. Usually when I am running, I swear at myself to push harder (is that weird?) but it wasn’t working for this long, hilly race. Instead, I started tenderly complimenting myself(is this weirder?). I distinctly remember saying, "Come on Tory, you little love muffin, you’re unstoppable. Keep going!" If you’d be uncomfortable saying harsh things to someone else to motivate them, why would you feel comfortable saying mean things to yourself?
4. Upgrade your community to upgrade your life.
In October 2014, I started doing free outdoor workouts with November Project, exercising outside every Wednesday and Friday, regardless of weather, at 5:28 and 6:28AM. I've found that people usually come for the exercise, but stay for the community. These loving, hugging, positive strangers were my lifeline during a harsh, frigid winter. Considering you’re the average of the people you spend time with most, you should probably pick people who motivate you to get out there, regardless of the weather.
5. You drop self-imposed limitations.
For the past 10 years, I’ve run three miles at a specific pace for my workouts. I accepted I wasn’t a "real’ runner, and was satisfied with my jogs. In January, I built up the courage to run with a friend who's incredibly fast. Next thing I knew, I had run six miles at a pace much faster than I was used to. Many times, our limits are only the ones we’ve self-imposed. Change your mind, change your life.
6. A high-five can change the world.
As a self-described introvert living in NYC, I often keep to myself. I remember showing up to the first workout with November Project and absolutely dreading that I'd have to open up and give morning greetings and hugs. Something I could do, though, was give a silent high-five while running past the other participants. High-fives became my gateway drug to connection, and now I look forward to the morning greetings. In fact, I'm now known as the girl who gives the best hugs! I also now constantly high-five random strangers in Central Park as well ... whoops!
7. You don’t have to know what to say.
Some of my best runs have been in silence with a friend. Though we aren’t speaking, the presence is supportive enough. Without the verbal communication, we have the space and awareness to read each other’s physical cues. Sometimes just being there is the best way to support someone you care about.
8. But when you do, shout it.
When you do know what to say, say it with vigor! Why do we waste so much energy worrying about being overly supportive or loving? During races, I compliment and encourage strangers the whole way. If you’ve got love to spread, spread it thick.
9. Pace doesn’t matter.
Some days you’re fast, some days you feel slow. Whatever. Some people are still in bed, you’re moving much faster than they are. Getting up and moving towards your goals is the only thing that matters.
10. Earth is your playground.
It took me eight years to finally see and appreciate New York City. I couldn’t truly enjoy it until I actually stepped outside and made an effort — what a concept! Wherever you may be, you’re incredibly lucky to be experiencing this place we call home. You’re never too old to get outside and enjoy the simple pleasure of existing.
If you live in NYC and want a workout buddy, let’s connect! November Project isn’t only in New York City either; there are 19 other tribes around North America. Head on over to their website to get a list of locations and JUST SHOW UP.
Photo courtesy of the author