Tips From A Novice Runner

Tips From A Novice Runner

Running may not be your thing, but you'll never know until you try.

A few months ago I started a journey to become a runner. I still have a long way to go, but I'm so excited for this journey has taken me already. I started with a Couch to 5K App that I'm loving so far, within the next week I will be running five kilometers and plan to do that three to four times a week. Middle school Andie probably would've scoffed at this new goal. I ran track in junior high for two years and it was utter torture. I suffered from terrible shin splints and was only able to compete in two meets because I was actually that bad. My relationship with running was unfortunately shaped by bad experiences and injuries that never seemed to heal.

Since then I’ve tried from time to time to run. I guess I never really had my heart in it because it always failed. I would run for a day or two and then write off running again. This time around I’m loving it and starting to see real progress. Part of the problem originally was that I lacked the skills to start running. I was desperately out of shape and running three miles straight was not even something I could’ve ever considered. I’m not trying to share how athletic and in shape I am because trust me I am neither of those things. But I am slowly becoming a person who finds utter joy in being able to run for more than 30 seconds without wheezing and falling over.

This time, I took it incredibly slow. It was actually a spur of the moment decision to start running, but I’m so glad I decided to try it and stick to it even when it has been hard. These are some tips for anyone who is interested in running.

Start slow

Since I was following a program I just did the run it told me to do each day. The first day I was only required to run for a few minutes out of the 30 total minutes. I was thankful that I started that slow or I never would’ve kept going. If I had tried to run for 30 minutes straight two months ago, I would not be running today. Your starting point may be much different than mine, but starting slow is better than getting burnt out quickly.

Do it with a friend

If you have a friend who is willing and able, start running with them. The time will pass quickly, you’ll be able to motivate each other, and you can share in your successes together.

Eat enough nutritious food

It’s important to make sure that you’re eating enough healthy food to take care of your body. Make sure you’re eating enough to sustain you and fuel your body.

Set attainable, measurable goals

As I mentioned my first goal was a 5k. I literally never imagined I would be someone that could run for that long, but I am now. I’d like to keep setting goals. I’ll never be a marathon runner, but a Disney half marathon sounds amazing. I’ll focus on that goal later.

Take care of yourself

No matter what you need to listen to your body. With a busy semester and other conflicts, there have been weeks where I had to put off running for a few days. Exercise makes me feel great, but not if I haven’t gotten any sleep or if I’m using it as a procrastination method. If you need to take time off from running for any reason, do it. Taking caring of yourself physically and mentally is important!

Stretch, stretch and stretch again

Stretching helps you in immense ways if you’re a runner or otherwise. It loosens and lengthens your muscles and helps prevent injuries. In addition to stretching after runs, adding yoga to your routine builds strength and flexibility.

If you’ve been considering running I would absolutely suggest you try it. Running may not be your thing, but you'll never know until you try. If it doesn’t work out, at least you’ll know and you can move toward finding a fitness routine that keeps you happy and healthy.
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Reflections From the Outside World

It doesn’t get better unless you work for it

It has been exactly one month since I was released from the psych ward, but don’t worry… I’m not here to tell all of you struggling with mental health problems that it gets better overnight, because it doesn’t. Nothing will get better if you don’t work for it.

If all you do is lay in bed and let your depression swallow your life, it will not get better. If you let your anxiety take over your life to where you cannot leave your house, it will not get better. You need to work for it. More often than not, working for it means accepting that you may need medication. For me personally, medication has been the only thing that has allowed me to have any sort of balance in my life.

Looking back, I am so grateful for my stay at the hospital. I am not ashamed of it nor will I ever be. I am stronger than ever and now realize that my mental health will always take priority over school, work, relationships, friendships, etc.

I’m not here to tell you that throughout the time I’ve been off and on medication that my life has been amazing, because that’s not true. Of course you will have bad days, days where getting out of bed seems impossible, or days where you just feel lost and out of it.

Metaphorically, Depression is similar to a person and their shadow. On some days it feels like you are inside a dim room and your shadow (the depression) is nowhere to be seen. However, there are days where you feel like you are outside on a bright sunny day and your shadow follows you everywhere.

You will have those days and that's completely okay. Just remember on those days to do your best and realize that the next day is a completely new day where you can completely start over.

To those who have experienced inpatient care, Remember all of the feelings you had while you were doing the inpatient. Remember the calmness of the environment, the feelings of understanding from the other patients, the feeling of safety and security from the demons inside your brain. Try to give yourself all of those feelings. Make yourself feel understood, calm, safe, wanted, and loved. Many times we do not see ourselves as spiraling downwards until we are so deep in the hole that it is too late to find a ladder to get out. Do not stop working on yourself; your mental health is always a priority over everything. Sometimes you need to fight yourself for your own life.

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For Those Who Struggle With Forgiveness

Give yourself a break.

What is forgiveness?

Seems like a simple question. According to Merriam-Webster, to forgive is to “cease to feel resentment against (an offender).” And for most of my life, that is what I have allowed myself to believe.

Forgiveness is simply the act of letting something go. As I’ve learned over the past couple years, though, to truly forgive someone involves something much deeper and more enlightening than that. It involves trust, one of the most necessary and wholly human emotions that we can feel. It also has a different definition for each person, which defines itself by that individual’s personality and standards.

Forgiveness, for me, is much more intense than simply “letting it go.” Forgiveness can only begin when I allow myself to become vulnerable after a traumatic break in trust, trust that may have been building for a long time. It means making a conscious decision to love and allow for trust again.

But forgiveness for me has not only been between me and others. A lot of my year has comprised of learning how to forgive myself. Easier said than done, right?

People make mistakes. A defining character of humanity is that we are not, nor will we ever be, perfect. I’ve always been the type of person who is hyper-critical of myself, especially in the mistakes I make and how I deal with them. So, when I did screw up, it became harder and harder to forgive myself.

But as I find myself growing as a person, I have also found myself to be more understanding and empathetic to my own feelings. I have found it much more empowering to take my mistakes and turn them into an experience, one that I can learn and grow from.

You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be forgiven, and you deserve to forgive. Allow yourself to take your mistakes and empathize with your own emotions and reasons.

In today’s society, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of attempting to be perfect. It seems that there is such a deep stigma attached to the idea of flaws, thereby forcing us to see mistakes as a reason for ridicule. Instead, see them as a means of growth, learn from it, and move on with your beautiful, blessed life.

Give yourself a damn break, you deserve it.

Cover Image Credit: Lina Trochez

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