Over the past three years, I have occasionally made it out for a run, but most of the time it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Or an attractive one. I did enjoy trips to the “river path” (Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail), where I took a few snapshots of the seasons. I am ashamed to say that I put more effort into taking these pictures than I did into the actual runs. Despite my effort, they did not even come out that well, but they should give you an idea of how beautiful the tow path is.
My whole life I have been of the opinion that nobody “actually” likes running. I am a distance swimmer at heart. Running always seemed painful and sweaty and never really appealed to me. I think that Parks and Rec adequately summarized this point of view, which was undoubtedly shared by many of us.
That being said, I have always wanted to finish a triathlon. I have also always been impressed by people that can just go out and enjoy a run everyday. For these reasons, I made it my goal this summer to learn to tolerate running–I challenged myself to thirty days of what I thought would be endless torture. Not for distance, not for time, but to become comfortable with the idea of huffing and puffing while moving my legs really fast on the ground. For me, this was a big step. I would like to share what I’ve learned, in case anybody else is interested in doing something similar.
After my 30 days, I continue to go out on runs several times a week. I feel great, I incidentally lost “finals weight” (no thanks to you, Hansel and Griddle banana flip smoothies), I am madly in love with our beautiful school and community, and I find that I look forward to my runs. When I run I clear my head and relax. Even just 20-30 minutes between my job and homework is immensely satisfying and improves my mood. Now I look forward to increasing my speed and distance! It took a few weeks to form the habit and now I can’t get enough.
There are so many things you can experience if you just get out the door. You become conscious of the community you’re living in. You become a part of this new mysterious group of people- the “runners” that “actually” like running. If you run through parks, you start to notice the animals. Turtles, deer, beavers, foxes, turkeys… You watch the seasons bloom. You start to plan to see sunsets and sunrises. Not to mention that this is the only body you have–you might as well nourish it, take care of it and challenge it.
WHY: BENEFITS OF RUNNING
- Sometimes it feels like your life is spinning out of control. Maybe you’ve got too much to balance, too much to handle, too much to study. I find that even a half hour run in the middle of my day relaxes me, helps me think and motivates me to study harder, work harder, get more stuff done!
- Running strengthens your immune system, prevents high blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health, and improves your sleep quality. Running is also linked to neurogenesis–neuronal cell formation–which is important in memory formation and learning. Instead of pulling an all nighter and cramming all day during finals, get a full night of sleep and take breaks to exercise. You’ll be more efficient while studying.
- Unfortunately life isn’t a pool and you can’t swim to class. But you can run just about anywhere and you don’t need any equipment (except good sneakers that won’t hurt your feet). This is a form of exercise that you can do anywhere at any time–free of charge.
- Fun 5ks. Rutgers has many of these throughout the year–color run, mud run, big chill, glow in the dark…
- There is no reason that you can’t fit in half an hour of exercise in your day. There is no excuse. Your brain, your body and your future self will thank you.
- Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins. Running makes you happy. This is the science of happiness. Go and grab some for yourself. It will also boost your confidence and every time you achieve a new goal you’ll feel a surge of pride!
WHERE: PLACES AT RUTGERS
- Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail (you won’t get enough of this place, I promise)
- Buccleugh Park
- Johnson Park
- Ecological Preserve
- Explore, explore, explore!
- Find a friend to run with. Running with my best friend made an average day into one of the best I’ve had at Rutgers.
- Make it an adventure–for example, run to the zoo in Johnson Park to feed the friendly pony a snack. Then you’re stuck because you’ve got not choice but to run back. (Yes, Rutgers has a little zoo)
- Go to sleep in your running clothes (not sneakers). I thought this was ridiculous at first, but when you wake up in your running shorts man do you feel motivated.
- Make it a date… unless you’d rather not present yourself in that way in which case you can…
- … make it a bet. Challenge yourself. Challenge your friends. Hold each other accountable.
- Follow a bunch of fitness Instagrams, Tumblrs and blogs for extra motivation!
- Make a delicious meal before you go running, so you can eat it as soon as you get back. Hopefully your housemates won’t eat it… =(
- Buy new running clothes. Break them in.
- Remember that you won’t ever regret exercising. What you do today will add to your progress. A week from now you’ll be happy that you started today.
- Create running playlists… listen to audiobooks… listen to lectures… (or the new Alesso album, to each his own). I’m always motivated to go on longer runs when I’m listening to an amazing new album.
- Plan to watch sunsets and sunrises.
- Watch House of Cards, be motivated by Claire Underwood’s morning runs, get your life together.
- Even if it’s the last thing in the world you want to do, put on your running gear and sneakers. Go outside. I find that the motivation to get out of the house is the hardest part. Take it a small step at a time. Most of the time when you’re already outside, the motivation will follow.
- Most importantly, exercise because you love your body, because you want to nourish it and take care of it. Exercise to challenge yourself and to keep your heart and brain healthy and happy.