I Nearly Shit Myself Running Tonight & 10 Ways To Enjoy Running As A Beginner.
I’d planned on writing a post called “10 Ways To Enjoy Running” tonight until I experienced one of the most traumatic workouts in my life. My experience kinda ruined my original post topic but I’ve included it here as I don’t like wasting shit.
A disastrous jog from the start
I wanted to run along the Lagan Meadows and head back into Belfast like last week’s run. It wasn’t to be. I bounced down a kerb outside Cutters Wharf bar and something tore its way out of my ass.
For a moment I couldn’t believe it. Then the gravity of the situation dawned on me.
This is it. I’ve shit myself.
When you think you’ve shit yourself the last thing you want to do is run anymore.
My primary concern was to yank down my shorts and survey the damage but I couldn’t as I was in parkland in the only week of summer Belfast is likely to get. The elderly and their grandchildren were out feeding the ducks, laughing and smiling I could not defile such a scene.
I knew that I had to turn around as the pain in my belly was not letting off and I was terrified of staring down in case I seen shit.
I set my mind on a cocktail of Cutters Wharf, but there’s nothing classy or sophisticated about an Irishman with shit running down his legs ordering a Sex On The Beach.
The cramps in my stomach were intense. Whenever it got bad I had to slow down like a plane during turbulence.
To try to lighten the situation, I imagined that I was a jumbo jet and thought about extending my arms out defiantly to show that I could counter any wind shear thrown my way.
It worked. Somehow I managed to keep going for 7.64 miles.
I sprinted down Botanic Avenue with David Bowie’s “Heroes” blasting in my mind with a little tear in my eye.
You know what the best moment was though? Reaching the toilets in the Empire bar, yanking down my underwear and discovering that I hadn’t even buttered my cheeks.
Now back to tonight’s scheduled post. Here are 10 ways that you can actually enjoy running if you don’t love it now.
- Set your own targets and base them upon where you are now – I made the mistake of Googling “What is a good time for a half marathon” before my first ever race and I remember thinking “even if I achieve the time I set out too it’ll still be insignificant compared to a good time.”. I learned to enjoy running by pitting myself against myself. I completed my first half marathon in 2:18 and as disappointed as I was with my time, I used it as a base to improve from. You need to shake this perfectionist mindset bullshit if it’s the difference between not running because you’re scared of looking like a fool or running and doing the best with what you’ve got now.
- Don’t put 100% into running if you don’t want to – I blame Nike, Reebok and Lance Armstrong for feeding us this inspirational “you have to give everything or you’re a loser!” bullshit. It’s better to put 50% into a run than to put 0% and lay on the couch. If you’re starting out, try to keep all runs slow and make sure that you can hold a conversation at your current pace. If you put in 100% into every run then you’ll very quickly hit burn out.
- You aren’t abnormal if you don’t enjoy running at first – It can be lonely, boring, shitty and smelly out there. But it does get better the more you practice. Try not to assume that it will always be the same way.
- Treat race weekends as holidays/adventures – I love going away for weekends to the UK and Europe for races now as I see the marathon as part of the pull. There’s something special about seeing a new city and the races are inseparable part of the holiday now. You don’t have to abstain from junk food or alcohol when you’re away at a race.
- Dream big and prove your haters wrong – If you’re overweight now and want to surprise yourself and everyone else, then why not enter a marathon and start training for it as soon as possible? The feeling you will experience once you’ve destroyed all previous conceptions of yourself is invaluable. It will also give you great focus in your training.
- Make yourself a killer playlist – With all of your favourite songs on it. I still have beautiful memories of sprinting flat out by morning to Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell on my home straight of a winter run. There’s something special about getting into a run with the music you love blasting in at your head.
- Don’t leave all of your running to the treadmill – I loved the treadmill when I first started with it but it quickly became boring as hell. The only solution was to move from the treadmill to outdoor running. The difference that the fresh air does for your mind is amazing. You don’t spend your entire workout staring at the fiery red neon glow of your calorie/distance counter, silently wishing for death.
- Don’t force yourself into a run if you don’t want to do it – If you’re feeling reluctant to run then it’ll typically be a message from your body that you’re too tired to run. It’s better to have a rest day than a bad run. You’ll find it difficult to shake the negativity of a bad run and this might dissuade you from running again so soon in the future. Rest up and make your next run a good one.
- Try not to take running too seriously – Every run used to be a chore for me as I was expecting massive improvements each time and there was no time for just enjoying what I was doing. I had to meet pace targets and distances as I was training for a marathon. It just wasn’t fun. I only truly began to love running when I got back into the mindset of being a child. I loved running when I was a kid and it never seemed like an effort. I felt under no obligation to run yet I still did it. This is exactly how I feel now and I’m loving it.
- Think of running as part of a lifestyle change – Lifestyle change to me before used to mean eating nothing but celery whilst striking painful yoga poses and knocking over bookcases stacked with DVDs in the process. It doesn’t have to be that way. Reimagine your own life with running in it and make it as fun as possible. If you live a fun life, then you’ll want to keep on living that lifestyle.