I woke up this morning and felt in a pretty low mood. No big, obvious reason – just being on my ‘time of the month’, my lower back ached, the weather was miserable and I had eaten far too many calories on Easter Sunday! I generally felt ‘meh’.
A couple of hours on, I feel so much better. More energy, better mood and healthier. Why? I forced myself out for a run. I have lost count of the times that I have been so relieved that I went against all my negative instincts, put on my trainers and just got myself outside and running.
‘But I can’t run/I don’t like running/It’s too hard’, I hear you retort. My running fitness is not particularly brilliant at the moment as I tend to avoid winter running. So this morning, I just went really slow. Slow enough that I could breathe easily and would have been able to talk to someone with ease if necessary. Near the end, I had enough energy to pick up the pace thanks to this precaution.
Running off at a fast pace when you are not feeling up to it will of course make your run unenjoyable. Focus on making your run as enjoyable as possible by following these tips:
- Take it as slow as you need – if you burn yourself out too quickly, you will not enjoy running and will be less likely to go again. Don’t worry if you need to do a walk/run combination instead.
- Choose a route away from the main roads as much as possible – you will feel far more relaxed without traffic and lots of pedestrians in your way.
- Set a goal – for some people, it can be really motivating to sign up to a run, whether that is a 5km, 10km or marathon.
- BUT don’t get too competitive – nowadays runners use apps to track their progress, and it can be disheartening if you can’t run as fast or far. If you find using the app makes you feel bad about running, turn it off.
- Join a running club or use music as your partner – For some, you may find it motivating to run with others and use running as a social, as well as physical tool for your wellbeing. For others (me included), I prefer to run when I want to rather than be confined by set times. So I use music as my companion – running is more enjoyable for me when I get to listen to my favourite songs.
- Get the right gear – it is worth investing in a pair of good quality trainers and workout gear to make running both more enjoyable and less likely to cause injuries. Good trainers are a must and well worth spending your money on if you want to run regularly. If you like listening to music, invest in a belt or arm band so you can listen without wires and ear phones flying all over the place!
Running and other exercise helped me make it through depression and unemployment, and it has continued to help me when I feel low. Please do force yourself out the door and give it a go… I have never yet heard anybody say ‘I regretted that run’.