Even the most hardened of runners sometimes find taking that first step out the door difficult, especially when it’s cold and dark, or it’s swelteringly hot, or there are other things that they want or need to do. But all of us can only reach our goals if we make sure to always take that first step.
Here are five ways to help your body and mind love running – even on the hardest days.
1. Feed Your Brain To Power Your Body. The brain needs glycogen – that’s it. It’s the body that needs all the other food. Without glycogen, the brain produces serotonin, which makes you sleepy, and stops producing dopamine – your motivator – leaving you with a wall to face. And it’s a tough one to overcome. Glycogen is the stored form of carbs, which is why carbo-loading before a race is a thing. Energy gels are a good idea to have with you on longer-than-forty-minute runs, so you can keep your brain alert enough to motivate your body.
2. Let Your Body Power Your Brain. Running actually helps your brain grow, helping it to learn and remember things, while also keeping it young for longer. Taking that bit of time now will keep your brain lively for many more years to come. Pretty convincing reason to get out there, right?
3. Promise A Stress-free Day To Body And Mind. Even a short run relaxes muscles and sharpens focus, which helps to reduce tension and make you feel a whole lot better about life. So when you’re feeling down, forcing yourself out for a run will guarantee to make you feel better. On days when it’s raining and cold, the promise of a restorative hot chocolate, or on a super-hot day, a rehydrating jug of lemonade, will drive you through the worse bits and be an extra special treat on the down days.
4. Speak Nicely To yourself. Elite runners and sport scientists have long known the benefits of positive thinking and visualisation. Have a chat with yourself, tell yourself you are strong and you can go the distance. Visualise yourself finishing that 5k, 10k, hour of running and feeling great about it, and you will succeed. Doesn’t hurt to smile while you’re running, either!
5. One Month Away From Habit. To settle into a new routine takes 31 days, but every one of those 31 days can be a slog, so here are some tips for overcoming the hard work.