Make Running Work for You

Tips for keeping perspective and enjoying a happy, healthy relationship with training, David Roche tells us more.

Many of us are crazy. And that is O.K.

Running is a grueling, mostly solitary pursuit that requires a strange type of persistent motivation. For a serious runner, that motivation needs to survive terrible injuries, catastrophic failures and life-threatening nipple chafing. While trail running does have a lot of rainbows and butterflies, it also has its fair share of lightning strikes and monsters.

What type of person persists when others move onto a kinder hobby, like knitting or Netflixing? In my coaching experience, those of us who decide to be lifelong runners make up a strong-willed herd of free-range wackos.

Being full-blown looney tunes about running has its positives. It allows us to accomplish amazing things when others would have stopped many years and up to two intact nipples ago.

But it also has its downsides. We can think too much, overanalyse things and even sabotage our health and happiness. We all know of runners whose obsession has had tragic consequences, encompassing everything from shorter-term injuries and discontentedness to longer-term, life-altering issues like overtrainingeating disorders and depression. The same thing that makes us great and fulfilled can make us unhealthy (and hurt our performance).

It’s essential to lift any stigma associated with this way of thinking so we can confront our crazy and try to keep the benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls. Here are two questions to ask yourself every day to make sure you keep your relationship with running healthy and happy.

1. Think long-term.

How can I make myself a happy and healthy runner three years from now?

In running, daily decisions determine long-term health. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking solely about a workout later in the week, or a race a few months away, instead of thinking more about the adventures in years to come.

Short-term planning like this causes people to run through injuries, do workouts they don’t want to and ultimately develop a purely results-oriented perspective that rarely leads to long-term fulfilment.

I recommend the three-year plan. Whenever you make running-related decisions, ask yourself whether it will make you better in three years. With this perspective, you won’t push through injuries, worry too much about missing a workout or over train.

2. Keep perspective.

What does running mean to me and why?

Sit down and choose the meaning it has for you. A fun example is to use Post-It Note reminders. While your to-do list and grocery list needs change constantly, your running goals always stay the same. Put a Post-It up that just says, “Fudge it. It doesn’t matter. So have fun and enjoy the process.” (Actually, it doesn't say "fudge," but you get the idea.)

Those who have had the “Fudge It” moment in their running careers generally have a healthier relationship with running. We all run for a lot of different reasons, all of which can be valid. But at the end of the day, it only has the meaning you give it.

So learn to strategically embrace your running crazy. By lifting the stigma and asking yourself the big questions, you can maximize your trail joy, as well as your performance.

To read the full article written by David Roche for Trailrunnermag click here