I love to run. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea I know. The freedom and silence I get when I’m out there at 6:30am frankly, is addictive. It is my time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am the same as most people in that my activity levels in the past have waxed and waned at various stages through my life. I’ve trained intensely at times for athletics competitions, hockey finals and running events, through to a different level of intensity after each of my kids were born, where I would walk the streets with the buggy and do weight/resistance training just picking them up!
And my motivation for getting out there and running on those cold mornings has changed over the years too. Quite honestly, from the vanity-driven, fear-of-getting-‘fat’ late teens, to the social (it’s a ‘thing;, for my dad and me) and stress-relief driven 20’s, to now. In my 30’s, when every moment is seemingly consumed by work or family activities or friends, it is the silence and the alone time and the mindfulness back into my body that gets me out the door.
The one common thread that has always been there is the understanding that moving looks after my body and it pays me back many times over. I love observing the knock-on affects with other aspects of my life; enhanced sleep, improved eating habits and better moods. You can read the science behind some of these interactions here, here and here (respectively).
Now, I have really relaxed into the feelings and challenges of running, exercise and being active in general. It’s about being outside, and for example, when in Australia, appreciating the beach and savouring the smell of the salty air and the feeling of sand in my shoes, to carry with me as a picture in my mind when I return to the land-locked area of Germany where we live.
It’s not always about the clock, it’s not often about how fast I’m going, (though sometimes I really enjoy the challenge of pushing out a fast 10K!) it’s simply about focusing back on my body and appreciating what it can do.
And this brings me to my question and the reality as the morning temperatures hover around 5oC: knowing all of the above, why is it so damn difficult to get out the door sometimes? How can I keep the momentum going in the face of changing seasons, increased work loads, kids that don’t sleep or lots of travel for work?
- make a realistic plan: what exercise can you realistically fit in and be happy with, without it causing added stress and anxiety. Is it committing to that one pilates-barre class a week (yes, thanks Hannah!)? Is it agreeing with yourself that at this point in time you can fit in two rides a week, and you are content with that?
- organise your week in advance: if you’re crazy busy, get your head around doing a shorter workout or something at home, rather than travelling to the gym or studio, or doing nothing.
- have a back up plan: it is raining….good thing you have that new rain jacket or have some space in your schedule tomorrow night
- rally support from your partner: with busy family schedules, support each other with exercise routines. ‘I’m going to run early Monday and Wednesday morning if you want to ride Tuesday and Friday’, for example (nb. actual example from my house!)
- get enough sleep: sleep and exercise are both important but if you’re a bit tired, try some gentle movement, it will likely have a follow-on affect for the next nights sleep. If you’re really zonked, perhaps that extra hour of sleep is in fact more beneficial. But don’t let either become a habit; listen to your body and find the balance.
- integrate the ‘incidental exercise’: taking the stairs, walking to the shops, riding to your friends place- these active choices all count towards your overall health plan
- be kind to yourself: enjoy the silence (or the music, or the trainer screaming at you, whatever floats your boat!) and appreciate the fact that you are moving and looking after yourself.
Maybe for you it’s a weights program, or a pilates class, or a football game. Maybe it’s riding the kids to school. Exercise. Movement. Being active…. whatever level you are up to, from elite athlete to a once-a-week walker, when combined with a balanced approach to nutrition, life should be looking pretty peachy!