I’m not a full fledged “runner” by any means, yet. But I know just lacing up my shoes and stepping out the door were some of the first moments I was reminded, I am alive and I breathe. So I’m thankful just for the training, for the ability to step out into nature and move forward. It was hard at first. I cried. I couldn’t breathe. I started hyperventilating a few times. But every day was just a tiny bit easier. Easier to live beyond the sadness, or despite it. Easier find bright moments in a day that would remind me that I needed to thrive.
Something about feeling the sun beating down on my face (vitamin D is awesome) and leaving the emotionally cocooned safe walls of our apartment allowed me to not have anywhere to hide from the vulnerability of grief. And I think that’s a necessary step in battling depression. Allowing the vulnerability to release itself maybe is where you find renewed strength of spirit. That comfort of four walls are like arms embracing you with a huge hug when depression begins to set in, especially from loss. But soon the walls become a prison cell locking you into a moment in time. Maybe we do that because we fear we are letting go of that which we lost, that last spark of life remembered.
But we don’t. All the good memories remain as long as you choose to be brave enough, vulnerable enough to remember. I still cry. I still hurt. And I think when we lose someone (this includes furbabies as someone’s) who is close to your soul, you always will hurt, there always will be tears. But you have to find a way to smile despite it all. You have to choose to live the life they can’t. It’s the very best way we can honor them.
So how does it all work this running (exercising, walking, aerobics) help with depression? What’s the proof, or scientific mumbo-jumbo?
• It promotes brain growth. Not like, your heads gonna get big lol. Running and the chemicals release while going through very physical things stimulates new nerve growth. Endorphin’s are an amazing fix for depression! 5 Ways Running Boosts Brain Power .
• It helps ward off stress. If you include some sort of aerobic exercise into your daily routine, like walking and running your body and mind is better prepared for whatever comes at ya in the form of stress or depression triggers. If everyday stress is minimized coping skills are much more effective and with easier transition. Physical Activity Reduces Stress
• It’s kinda the closest we have to a Fountain Of Youth (naturally) Physically, the effects are obvious. But also mentally. Following a half hour of strenuous exercise, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex works harder to resist distracters and performance on tests of attention improves. Studies also show that immediately following exercise, problem solving, memory, and attention improve. Think Better: Exercise
•It interrupts the mental feedback loop of stress, anxiety and depression within our brains. When we are stressed in our everyday life, or depressed because of a loss of some kind or dealing with anxiety because of something life has thrown unexpectedly at us, we can get “stuck”. Our brains go on a loop and doing a vigorous activity can be just the thing to snap our brains back into problem solving, or at least into acceptance of a situation if no other resolution is possible. Along with this, when depression sets in our bodies produce less Cortisol and that is bad news for our body trying to help us out of that loop, exercise increases Cortisol levels! The Brain on Stress
• It reduces muscle tension. Ever notice your body when you’re stressed out, or depressed? We tend to contract muscles and hold them in tense states. It’s all a part of that fight or flight mode ancient humans carry within them. Our body is ready to defend us against the perceived threat. Even if that threat is coming from ourselves being depressed or stressed to the max. Exercise, running, gives those muscles something to actually do. It then tires them out, they feel they fought the good fight and finally they can relax. Exercising to Relax
So I don’t run very well, nor very fast or far (yet). But lacing up those shoes and putting your best effort in is what matters. You don’t have to be skinny, or already healthy. And you don’t have to be happy either. But your mood will lift as you continue running out of your darkness and into a better state of physical and mental health.
All content found in this article, including: text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental health advocate, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately. Or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 1-800-273-8255 – Available 24 hours everyday
Advice from links to educational content and websites are to be taken at your own risk. runningtozen.org is not responsible for the claims of external websites.
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
― John Muir
Hiking & walking in nature, for me, is blissful. And each season brings it’s own bit of wonder and wisdom to the hike. I never really sat down and wondered why I love to hike so much. I mean, yeah I love nature and getting any exercise is a pure endocrine giving burst while getting my body in better shape. But I knew it was more than that, something deeper, almost spiritual in form. I found a sense of peace as my footsteps hit the earth and my mind would wander to, wow, to nowhere, and yet everywhere all at the same time. But not in a rushed getting through the day mode, or not in the chaotic work essence. No, it was within a place of complete release. Complete mental relaxation. And that was when I realized, without knowing it, I was meditating by accident.
Having done meditation in a seated position in my home, and on the beach, I knew exactly what meditation was. But this was different, almost a purer meditation. I realized that my eyes drinking in the trees, the beaches, or the streams was guiding my meditation deeper within.
You don’t even have to believe in meditation for meditation to have effect. Meditation is nothing much more than allowing your mind to be still, and then, once still to allow it to wander to places of peace and zero stress. And nature is a remedy in itself for stress. Why do you think major white collar corporations do retreats to the wilderness camps?
In our hectic world of technology and as we rush from job to second job, or from work to making dinner for the family. Or when we have to study relentlessly into the wee hours of night just to get up to go take the test and a full day of classes. We forget to take time to really turn off. Many people turn to the TV to do that, when in fact it may distract, but it doesn’t help your brain find peace. It’s just living someone else’s fictional life instead of your own.
Meditation is hard on some. They don’t know the first steps, or just can’t do it automatically, can’t shut out the world outside. It takes practice. And patience. I think walking meditation is in some ways an easier starting point at meditating 101 because your body is still being allowed to move, while quieting the racket in your mind. I highly recommend being in nature though, not on a busy street where you have to watch for traffic, lights and hear blaring sirens and car honks. A peaceful little park will do.
I have no doubt that National Running Safety Month was likely created by a running store or brand to bring people into the store and for good mojo with the runners. But that’s ok, because safety is something that runners should be worried about, and not just in November!!
As a runner, (or walker or hiker) safety should always be #1 before anything else. Precautions in advance and using some simple tools can help you be safer and allow you to get your run done knowing you are prepared.
Ran across a good comprehensive safety guide for runners or walker, even hikers will see a few good tips. Lace Up Local has tips for running safely in the dark, safety when you run alone, safety in the rain or inclement weather conditions and safety for women.
Road ID App – You can select up to five people from your phone’s contact list to alert when you go for a run (and the best part is the app is FREE!)
Speaking of Road ID, they sell fantastic little wrist ID’s that you can personalize. You can have you name, phone number, blood type, medical alerts, etc all engraved on a plate on the band that you choose. This is a smart idea, especially if you run, hike, or walk alone. If something happens to you like you get hit by a car or are unconscious for some reason, police and medical personnel can have vital info they need for quick action. Many don’t like to take along bulky wallets and drivers license can easily be lost. But the fun part is that you can personalize them!
I also recommend wearing some type of reflective clothing. There are products out there from inexpensive wrist bands to outrageously (but super cool looking) vest lights. Lit shoelaces are a cute touch, and I like the heal lights they have everywhere for your shoes.
But whatever you buy or don’t buy, whatever safety app you choose, or not, be safe out there!! And yes, any lights on shoes has been scientifically proven to make you a faster runner! Or so I like to believe.
1. Start Small
Maybe you’ve never run a day in your life. Or maybe you’ve taken a big hiatus from the pavement for whatever reason. Or injury has kept you sidelined. Regardless, you need to start or start back small. The most exuberant first time mountain climber isn’t gonna go out and tackle Mt. Everest his first climb. It would be foolish but also self deflating. You need to set yourself up for success, strength gaining and endurance building.
Heck you don’t even have to “run”. If you don’t feel a run, then walk. Or if your conditioning won’t yet allow running, then walk. Walk as slow as you need to. The point is letting your feet touch the pavement, the trail or the treadmill ( I highly suggest one or both of the first two. Treadmills are great for intervals or really bad weather conditions but being in the open air is just in general better for your health).
Commit to a 15 to 20-minute short walks or runs, or intervals (run/walk/run), three times for one week. Sure, you may want to do more, but just stick to short sessions. After three or four weeks of regular training, aim to increase your workload and running mileage.
2. One Goal
Goals help you to focus. That eye on the prize mentality. Something that would make you feel inspired or accomplished in your training. Sit down and come up with the ONE goal you want to achieve. Do you want to run a 5K, a 5K in under 30 minutes, or are you trying to get back into marathon running? Choose a race allowing yourself enough time to reach that goal. Be very very realistic. Check and see what the time limit is for the race and then set your training accordingly, but make sure it’s doable!!
3. Find Inspiration
That can be from other people who are runners or race walkers. Join a club, or some bigger races even have training groups. Many small running stores have group runs. I’m part of the RWB who gets together not only for races, but training runs, strength training , hill work, yoga and cross-fit.
Follow blogs that inspire you and your training. Find an inspirational quote every day that you focus on. Make it your mantra for the day and focus on that when you train.
4. Commit Your intentions out loud to someone or to many
You can blog it, tell members of that new group what your training plan encompasses, or tell your family members around the dinner table. There are many forums you can find about running, or Facebook groups. Even Reddit has running threads you can follow and share with.
You will also need to hold yourself accountable—long term—for your actions. Don’t just commit once and it’s over, but hold yourself accountable for the long term by providing everyone on your accountability list with regular progress updates every week or so.
So far I’ve told my blog readers my intention and also how I’ve been slacking. My hubby knows, as well as knowing details on my training schedule so he can kick me in the butt when needed.
5. Change up your training routine
Especially when you feel you’re getting bored or losing excitement in your walk or run. This can especially happen when training for longer and longer distances. So small changes help immensely. It can be changing up your play list, or your running route (which you should do for safety anyway), as well as time of day. If you are a road (pavement) runner, find some smooth trails that aren’t to challenging (where you would need to buy trail shoes for), or accept the challenge. Hey that means you can shop for some new shoes ladies 👠
This is the good time to throw in some treadmill intervals where you can change up the speed and incline. If you google treadmill intervals you will find all kinds of routines to do. Or head outside for the hills, I said hills, not mountains, for some hill work. This will help strengthen your legs.
6. Befriend Runners
As I said above, find some fellow runners or walkers. Check what you are doing minute per mile and then go seek like minded (ability) people. I also belong to group on Facebook called the Running Turtles. They are local in my area but they have everyone from 20 min mile walkers to 6 min mile runners. It could even be your spouse or a friend who has similar goals. But if you do that, just make sure you are positive for one another. You don’t want someone who can easily talk you out of walking or running for the day to go to the donuts shop instead!
Also just befriending runners in online groups even if it’s a national group like the RunJunkEes® Run Club is for me. We do have a small local group that meets. But many in RunJunkEes® are online just for the support, tips and motivation they get.
Also small local running stores often hold runs and running workshops. Some are often directed at showing off a new shoes style. But that’s a benefit because sometimes you get to try the shoes too! And besides, you need to get fitted properly if you’re just starting out anyway. Too often people buy running shoes in the size they normally wear in non running shoes, and guess what, most of the time that’s not the right running shoes size you need. Plus there are shoes depending on your pronation (heel goes to the left or right when you come down on it) and you can get shoes to help because that is a discomfort when running.
7. Celebrate your Successes
And try not to do it too much with food if you don’t have a healthy relationship with food. Much better choices are ways to pamper or gear yourself.
Massages are a welcome relief
Manicure and Pedicure will make you feel awesome and usually you get a bit of a foot and calf massage added into it!
A new haircut or color is a great way to celebrate you getting healthier and stronger
New shoes (any new shoes 👟)
New running clothes! I adore INKnBURN as I guess you know by now and for me the fact that these are special limited edition runs makes my self esteem stronger when I run in them. They are special for my training and they help me to not give up!!
8. Starting for the first time
Depending on your skill level and athletic ability there are good training plans out there that are all just a little different and that makes it easier for you to find the right fit.
Couch to 5K training plan you can find on the internet and apps for your phone
Get fitted for the proper running shoes
Start with run/walks
Let your body be the boss. Your brain may think “but I’ve only gone 10 minutes, I have to push further”, but if your body is hurting badly, your limping along, or you are fatigued, pushing to hard will damage you for your next outing.
HYDRATION – yes capital letters. You may not feel thirsty at all, but your muscles need that hydration, or they will quit on you. HYDRATE well before your run (give enough time to head to the bathroom before your run).
Plan a safe route. A route you know, where the neighborhood is safe, time of day is safest and where you know the actual layout of the pavement or trail. Yes, walk it out first and know where there is and isn’t sidewalk. And where there is cracked up sidewalk. Where there are badly managed trail areas. It’s great if you can find a school that allows you to use their track, but check with them first so you don’t get arrested for trespassing. This is another area knowing local runners or running stores can help you out.
Take breaks when you need to, you are training your body. Training translates to, your body doesn’t know how to do this yet.
Make sure you’ve eaten a small but healthy meal about an hour before your run. Your body needs fuel. Especially when you are asking it to do more. There are many books on runners nutrition out there, just google.
Be patient with yourself and if you don’t succeed with your planned time or planned miles, don’t stress it. Just lace back up the next training day and go out and get it!
I’m not listing shoes because every foot is different. I have used three different brands since I started. But I was fitted for the brands.
There are other phone apps out there such as Zombie 5K, Map My Walk, Map My Run, Get Running, Runkeeper, Couch to 5K, C25K, Runtastic, and Edumondo. I have used all of these and they all, like most apps have high points and low points. You just have to give them a test run and see what fits your needs best.
Seeking inspiration these days I stumbled upon some simple yet profound logic as get back in the game and out of my own head space. Maybe if you are stuck in a mental jam this will help you too. And this isn’t just a short distance, 5k runners tip. Matt wrote this after a 50-miler. As I’ve said, running is so much more a mental battle than a physical one. As humans we are capable of so much more than we realize at times. Like me, some just need to get out of their own way! Read on my friends…
8 Ways to Start Running Again When You’re Just Not Feelin’ It. By : Matt Frazier
When you’re on fire, you know it.
Running is all you can think about. Your workouts are hard, but they’re the best part of your day.
After each one, you feel unstoppable, and you can’t wait until tomorrow, so you can do it all again.
But when running is hard, it’s really hard. It feels forced, and you know deep down that even if it looks like you’re running, you’re really just going through the motions.
And though you give yourself a pat on the back after you get out there and grind out a workout, you can’t help but remember all the times when you didn’t need to play cheerleader — when you ran because running was all you wanted to do.