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Thomas O’Leary recently wrote an article explaining how to refresh your running:
Are you feeling a little stale about running at the moment? Is it hard to remember what is so exciting about pushing yourself physically? This happens to all of us at some time. Sometimes it is because of an end of season back-off in training, or maybe because it is because of overtraining or an injury. Whatever the cause, at some stage in your running, it is inevitable that you will find a temporary drop in your normal motivation.
There are any number of ways to re-kindle your motivation, but the easiest I can think of is to return to one of the basic benefits of running.
Many of us start out running because of the basic health benefits, but this motivation is often quickly replaced by other “higher” motivators like self actualization or camaraderie or even good old competition. When things go a little stale, though, one of the easiest ways to get back into a healthy, internally motivated headspace is to return to the beginning.
What is it that attracted you to the health benefits of running? Is it that you can gain and keep a healthy body weight while not trying to live on lettuce leaves and water? Is it that you can charge your way through the day with increased endurance, mental sharpness and strength? Is it that you are able to operate at a higher level in most other active pursuits as a result of your running? Or is it that you can simply go about your day to day life without being held back by the physical limitations that most people take for granted?
To see a vivid illustration of these benefits in the real world, I like to watch a set of stairs in a busy train station or shopping centre. I see people climb the stairs and watch their condition when they have reached the top.
Bearing in mind that most people will avoid climbing stairs like they were taxes, only the fit, brave, stupid or extremely lazy (couldn’t be bothered looking for a lift) will climb the stairs in the first place. Then out of those few who dare to ascend under their own steam, you will see some spectacular displays of struggle and hardship. There will be gasping and coughing as someone struggles to get enough oxygen through a poorly conditioned cardio vascular system. There will be someone who travels so slowly that they cause a traffic jamb as they attempt to carry way too much weight around their middle up the stairs. Then there will be someone else, who, though spindly in body structure, hasn’t got the strength to climb without dragging on the hand rail. Or if they have the strength, they don’t have the energy or endurance to fight gravity for more than the first flight of stairs before taking a break. Then there are the rare few who bound up the stairs, often 2 or 3 at a time, with a casual and relaxed smile on their face. Not smug or conceited, but just enjoying the benefits of their chosen lifestyle. Of these people you can often see clues to their secret if you look closely. Does the man you see have shaved legs and an unusual tan line? He is probably a cyclist. Does the woman have stronger arms and shoulders than you would expect? She is probably a swimmer. What shoes are they wearing? Expensive top of the line runners are often fashion shoes but light weight trainers can be one of the signs of a runner or triathlete. These are just the telltale signs of sporting involvement and they don’t mean very much except they do explain why these people are able to run the stairs that beat most other people at a walk. They are athletes and they are enjoying their bodies. They work hard at their condition and they can fly as a result.
However these athletes are the rare exception. More often I see the all too common, symptoms of what some would call the down ward spiral of the human physical body. While some of us are persistently and carefully conditioning our bodies, the vast majority of the developing world is going backwards. More and more of our daily lives are spent motionless at a desk or in front of a television or computer. Less and less of our time is spent doing anything active, let alone actually training our bodies. The result of this level of inactivity is plainly displayed at my very unscientific stair watching laboratory.
Now there are plenty of reasons why people have difficulty climbing stairs, and I’m making it out to be a simpler equation than it really is, but one thing is for sure. A basic benefit of running that I enjoy is the ability to cruise up stairs without missing a beat. As a result of my running, I can walk all day, carrying a heavy load (like a child on my back), run for the train, stand up during a long commute, help someone else with their baggage and still have the energy left to bound up the stairs out of the train station and jump on my bike to ride home. Now this doesn’t make me a super human, but it does make me a useful, capable and healthy body powered by a sharp, relaxed and productive mind.
I have been a runner for so long now that I don’t know what I would be like without running, but seeing how so many people struggle to get by, just climbing stairs I am not willing to find out. If running means that I can enjoy this healthy lifestyle, then I will run. If I am lacking motivation, I can look at how many non-runners struggle with daily activity, and then…hey presto…there is my motivation.
About the Author: Tom O’Leary is an Australian author and runner, currently living in Tsukuba Japan He recommends a carefully balanced mix of work, rest and play in order for runners to achieve their goals. If you enjoyed this article there are plenty more at http://www.runningmonkeys.com
Posted in: Triathlon Running