This is a thing. It is a real thing and if you haven’t experienced it, you must do whatever you can as soon as you can to do so.
In general the output of my runner’s high is social media posts about running or what I did. I’m certain this is annoying to my social media peeps, mostly my very dear close friends and family. However, when I finish my run I am bursting with everything positive and awesomeness. But not about everything.
About me. Just me.
I haven’t been one of those people that lacked self-esteem, more so that I attempt to be humble in my accomplishments – sort of a silent understanding with myself that I’m great and things are going to be great, but without sharing. But after a mile or two or three or four (!) adrenaline and endorphins surge through my system, these things come out on social media.
After all, running is the one thing that only I can do. No one can help me or do it for me. Only I can do it. And the only person I do it for is me. Now I would like to believe the others in my family experience the fringe benefits of all this running in place or to and fro, but I will leave that to them.
There are a few things, however, that my runner’s highs have taught me. Take them or leave them, but I hope they might inspire you to try it on for yourself.
1. Being in the “zone” is important.
At first I was trying to run on the treadmill in the living room while the kids were around. About all I could do to keep them from climbing all over me and the treadmill was to either shout or turn on the TV or both. Then someone would need a drink or a snack or someone would infringe on someone’s rights in some way and I’d have to stop, pull out my headphones, sort it out and try again. Exhausting. Like more exhausting than whatever plan I had put myself on for the day. Miraculously the children discovered a neighbor girl they are now inseparable with so while they play, I am free. Inside, outside, walking, running, etc. No more infinite distractions.
I save the really big runs for when both kids are at school – this way no one is around when I: 1. Talk to myself to motivate continuing on with whatever is exhausting me and 2. I cry after going above and beyond. Every dime of the fancy arts-based preschool is worth it for those few hours per week. All I have to to is worry about the journey my legs are taking me on and how much harder I can push myself. You can’t really be in the “zone” if you’re distracted – it requires a lot of mental energy.
However, I have found that regardless of what I think about while I’m running (which is often extended calculations about how much is “left”), when I’m done troubles are smaller and more manageable, stresses are less stressful and solutions to tricky problems are easier to untangle. I cannot guarantee these results, of course. But still.
2. It doesn’t have to be about weight loss or what you look like.
I’ll admit I started running and wanted to start running to lose weight. After years of struggling to keep the living room clean enough and the kids off me long enough to do exercise videos (LOVE kickboxing ala Turbo Jam/Fire), I gave up. So I was doing nothing. Nothing. Then there was a string of articles from the NYT about the health benefits of exercise. One of these used twin studies where one twin exercised and one didn’t. The exercising twin was healthier and lived longer. I don’t have a twin, but I had two paths. I’m choosing the exercising one. I’ve got two kids and a lot left to do so I’d better get moving. Regardless of the size of my clothes.
3. It is valuable enough to make time for.
Everyone has the same number of hours each day – regardless of who you are. I used to spend pretty much an entire day ignoring the clean dishes in the dishwasher because I hated putting them away. Then, one day I timed myself to see how long it actually took me to unload it. Regular speed, no rushing, neat and tidy – three minutes. THREE MINUTES! I have spent HOURS everyday avoiding unloading the dishwasher.
I realized I was doing this about exercise too. My kids are home, they need a snack, they are busy/ not busy on and on. One of these NYTs articles indicated that several small workouts was as effective as super long marathon ones. So baby steps it was. And hint *the more you run, the faster you are, the sooner you are done*.
The benefits, some of which are listed above, were more than enough to motivate me to do it, make the time. I wasn’t going to get younger/thinner/healthier by complaining about how I don’t have time to exercise. (This also really irritated my husband.) Once I learned that the dishwasher was only going to take 3 and not 400 minutes, I had lots of extra time for running.
4. You cannot do everything all at once.
During my many forays into running in the past I got frustrated when I couldn’t do my 30 minutes/2 miles/whatever that I had imagined in my head when started out. This time I tried a more gradual approach. I set monthly goals and worked hard to be sure I achieved just those goals. My first goal was just to do 5000 steps everyday. That’s all! But I did it and within two weeks I was blowing 5000 out of the box so my next month’s goal of 7500 was already in the bag long before I got there. I now average between 12000 and 13000 steps a day. I can run a 5K in about 34 minutes. It took me 4 months to get there and I still have more I want to do. Baby. Steps.
5. You can do more than you thought you could.
Each time I lace up my shoes I have a goal of how far I’m going to go. I used to focus only on time, but now I focus on distance (I’m very step motivated). Then I try to find a speed that works with that distance for where I am that day. Each time I run I push for either more speed or more distance. I’ve never died, I’ve never thrown up. I have cried. I have grown. I have made it. I have done more than I thought I could. You can do.
Just be careful about setting goals for the next day when you’re runner’s high.