Running- The Cardio of Freedom 

Running. I can hear someone sobbing in the background. Someone else groaning and facing a wall in denial. Someone else snoring. They’ve heard it all before apparently.  Running is something that many of us view as a chore, a necessity. What’s the easiest and cheapest way to get fit? Running. What burns the highest volume of calories? Running.

As a fighter, cardio is intrinsic. It’s a key component of building endurance, stamina and for weight cutting. Most people choose running for this cardio. It’s often dreaded.

Now for me.

I want to show you why running should be your friend. That one that comes to the party, you know they’re not drinking, and yet, you excitedly pull up a chair for them by your side.

Running is not just a tool of the body, it’s a tool of the mind. A training partner of mine once said, “get rid of your headphones and just run as meditation”. I decided to try it. I found something very interesting and liberating both in the morning and after work.

Now, the average person’s head is very busy. Your mind is congested, your thinking muddled. Click here for my post on a running meditation technique, which is more focused on releasing thoughts, bringing attention into the body as opposed to addressing the thoughts themselves (SUBSCRIBE and you’ll NEVER miss a blog post, wink wink nudge nudge). But…. In this post I want to talk to you about watching those thoughts and much like you figure out a maths equation, pacing them out in your mind. It is a massive relief. The number of issues or problems I’ve resolved is staggering. I’ve come up with the best ideas and decisions. With an idea, you have the joy of a light bulb moment, with a decision the relief of letting it go, another thing ticked off your list. This is most effective of course when keeping a steady pace.

Why? Studies have shown that your thoughts are better able to keep in motion when you are. This will be related to the fact that Oxygen is pumping through your body, which includes your brain. Your brain is able to function better and with greater clarity.

The so called “runners high” is also a result of endorphins being released into the blood stream. The “feel good” neurochemical. So you are more likely to leave a run with a positive train of thought. When you are in a positive state of mind you are far more likely to look for solutions than problems.

In addition to this, when you are on a run, you tap into an instinctive state. Running was necessary in hunting and escaping danger. Another one of these survival drives was an inquisitive nature that allowed us to adapt to change. That is why humans are in our natural element when exploring. Running, particularly outside, provides a real outlet for this inquisitive behaviour. You feel like an explorer. There is a real sense of freedom and spontaneity when running. A sense of independence, your feet could take you anywhere.  This is a truly empowering state of mind.

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You live fully in the moment, particularly when outside (I am a big advocate of outdoor running as you can tell) you have no choice. You have to complete your run in order to get home.

With this awareness of your body can come a real sense of gratitude and therefore enjoyment of the movement in your limbs. Not everyone physically can run. You feel the gratitude of every movement and every step. You feel the beauty of being alive.

Still not convinced? I think variety is the spice of life so I do like to mix things up. If you are determined to run but still see it as something you need to get through (and everyone has those days when they feel like this, even if ordinarily they love running).

Here are some techniques to make it more interesting and keep you going:

  • Set yourself mini challenges, such as sprinting to an object you can see in the distance.
  • Vary the pace. When struggling to get through a run, I would sprint for 10 seconds, then normal pace for 10 seconds on a rotation. Or I would run as fast as I could for as long as I could, counting it as sets of ten seconds in my head and then run normally when I was out of breath. On shorter sprint, run alternations, your body gets adapted to the faster pace. So even though you’re tired, your normal pace will become even faster than your normal running pace without the sprints. Your body will want to keep to a rhythm continuously if it can.
  • Use fitness apps if you get fulfilment for tracking your progress. I have in the past and certainly triumphed, did a little dance even, at an increase in speed, distance and calories burnt. Plus your mind likes to remember negatives and if a day goes badly you’re likely to put yourself down. But if you look back over your recorded progress, you can shut up the Debbie Downer in your head. If you don’t have a fancy phone, don’t worry! A timer/watch and a pen and paper can record this for you also, you can roughly calculate the calories burnt from this (it’s very roughly about 100 calories every 10 minutes).
  • Audiobooks. You can run incredibly far when you’re NOT thinking about it as well. It turns into your free time fun, particularly if you’re hooked on the story line. No joke I listened to all of The Count of Monte Cristo. This is a VERY LONG book, but well worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Currently listening to Anna Karenina. You can get loads of FREE recordings from https://librivox.org/

Hope you all enjoyed this. Please recommend and subscribe to the mailing list to get free information and find out about new blog posts. Comment, contact me, I would LOVE to hear from you! 

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