While I sit in my home office and watch the last of the leaves cling to the bare branches, cold air blowing and not a reprieve in sight of the endless grey clouds, I contemplate the November blah’s. Here is a piece of advice that is surely written more for myself than anyone. GET OUTSIDE!
There I said it. Now, I have to do it. When the weather turns, the first thing I want to do is crank up the heat and stay cuddled in blankets drinking camomile tea. No I’m not sick, just reacting to this grey, cold weather.
Get out and run, my mind says. An avid outdoors-woman, I know the fresh air will cure whatever ails me. It always has, it always will. Why is it that the one thing I should do is also the last thing I want to do? Catch-22 indeed.
Here is a very real picture of the doom that awaits outside my front door. No filters, no PhotoShop people. This is November in all her gloom.
Here are some tips to maximize your run:
- Relax. You might think that is impossible when your legs are pumping and your breathing is heavy, but try practicing a little relaxation. Start with your shoulders. Drop your shoulders. Relax your arms and your hands. Roll your head, relax your upper muscles. Then move down, relax your hips and let your legs move effortlessly. You’ll find a big difference in your technique, not to mention your overall enjoyment of running once you master the art of relaxation.
- Breath through your nose. Our impulse when we run is to draw in as much air as possible, so that means breathing through your mouth. Try taking deep breaths through your nose. This will not only help with your relaxation but will allow your body to run at a pace that is right for you, rather than forcing a faster pace by breathing heavily through the mouth. Think of yogic postures where you breath in through your right nostril and out through your left.
- Enjoy your surroundings. What better time to notice those spring buds coming up or the blue sky. Even if it’s raining or dark, look up and see the moon and the stars. Feel the rain on your face (it’s quite refreshing!). Running is the perfect pace for enjoying the scenery. Make the most of your runs and see what nature has to say to you.
- Run on the balls of your feet. Try making as little noise as you can while running, avoiding thumping down on your heel. Running shoes are terrible for promoting “light” running with their heavy heel padding. (I will be experimenting with barefoot running soon, stay tuned!) Run as if you are on eggshells, treading lightly while keeping your upper body tilted slightly forward. A lighter runner is a faster and more efficient runner.
- Vary your pace. Running can get monotonous. Pick up your pace if you’re feeling a little frisky, or slow it down if you’re feeling rugged. One of the benefits of running is you can do whatever you want, so run however you feel. Vary your running with sprints, long, slow runs and hills. Not only will you improve your skills, you will find the technique and stride that is right for you.
Here is something I really cannot understand. Fellow runners who do not smile when we pass each other. When I run, I feel fantastic! Okay, maybe not while I’m chugging up that hill, but generally I’m happy. And what makes me even happier is seeing other runners.
Running is a mind sport. It’s your mind that keeps you going all those kilometers. It’s what’s in your head (or what you tell yourself) that gets you up those hills, that gets you out the door and what makes you sign up for those races. Once your body is trained, it’s all in the mind.
So when I pass other runners it’s not a competition. There is no race (and even if it were, I would still smile). Endorphins are firing, the sun is shining and we’re lucky to be healthy. To be able to run! So I often wonder, what is up with people who don’t smile back? Could be they’re lost in thought, oblivious to their surroundings. Very possible and I often find myself lost in thought as well.
If you happen to be a runner, smile back when someone smiles. It feels good, its encouraging and above all, it says we’re in this together.
Half-way through my run this evening I started noticing how my winter running has paid off. I felt light, fast and strong. The months of running through snow, on ice, and in the dark do have its rewards. As I headed for home, I noticed a large red truck and some commotion. It distracted me enough to change my route and see what was going on.
As I approached I saw people dressed in white chef jackets and red neckerchiefs giving away free pizza! They were a little surprised when I actually tucked the pizza box they gave me under my arm and ran for home. I definitely got some curious looks from people along the way.
Thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign (Delissio Ultimate Delivery), I had a tasty, hot dinner in 20 minutes. Just what I needed after my run.
Here is why I love to run.
I left my house wondering if this was indeed a good idea, it was slippery out. As I made my way and found my stride I came across unruly drivers, all trying to beat the rush hour traffic. Stop signs are exceptionally dangerous, but I carried on. When I made it to my target, the park, I was welcomed by the sound of a frozen puck slapping the sideboards. I looked up and saw a perfectly lit outdoor rink, equipped with boys skating with hockey sticks. Truly a Canadian sight. It felt great. So I carried on my run, having felt that seeing this sight was why I pushed myself to run to the park.
The leg home was tough. Uphill and not as scenic as the park. As I ran towards home I couldn’t wait for the run to end. Just then, I look up and see a fellow runner. My heart sang, I was not alone. Someone else was out here, braving the cold, the elements, to run. I felt a kinship and ran the next couple blocks with her in site. When I felt my confidence grow I started for the last few blocks home.
As I rounded out my run in front of my house I felt accomplished, exercised and happy for the sights I’d seen.
It’s amazing what you can see when you don’t set out to look for it.