“I just felt like running” – Forrest Gump
Among the great things about running is the fact that in essence it is so simple: walk really fast. With just a good pair of shoes and a sidewalk, you are all set for a run. These facts are what makes the sport so inviting. And what make it so tempting to just stick with shoes and sidewalk without all of the other habits and practices that will make you a stronger, healthier, and happier runner. Sorry Forrest.
With so many options to choose from, let’s focus on a few habits for runners should add into their week: yoga, cross-training, and having fun.
Kelly Roberts, podcast creator and running coach, often highlights that there is no one right look or way to be a runner. Roberts declares that every single runner is demonstrating: “This is what strength looks like.” Strength is an essential part of being a runner, from the mental strength to get out the door to the physical strength to put one foot in front of the other for miles. And cross-training through diverse kinds of exercise will help in building that strength. Fitzgerald (2018) acknowledged there is no one way to build strength: “What’s the secret to success in running? Well, there are no secret formulas or shortcuts, so it really comes down to hard work, smart training and consistency”.
Habit #1: 10 minutes of yoga after every run and 20-30 minutes of yoga on rest days.
It is about a balance with some sessions of running fast, some of running slow, and some of doing something other than running. Neitz (2020) recommended the value of yoga for runners, especially after a run and on rest days. By incorporating simple poses, a runner will improve range of motion, relieve tension, and heal sore muscles.
With strength as what we want to build, injury is what we want to avoid. Alongside all those miles and exercise, runners need to build habits of stretching and rest to support their passion.
Habit #2: 30 minutes to 1 hour of a sport other than running once a week.
Running is basically movement in one direction, so Smith (2020) wrote about how cross-training helps runners move in other directions, which improves health and complements running in the long run (pun totally intended). If an area of your body feels sore or weak or not engaged while on a run, that is exactly the area that needs more attention. Lobby (2018) provided a list of cross-training exercises to incorporate, including swimming, cycling, and walking. Plus, she highlighted something really important for all runners (including yours truly): “having fun” is a missed but critical part of a runner’s week.
A final habit that we have to talk about for runners is to have fun. Having fun is not limited to a literal smile on your face during a hill workout in a rainstorm. If you can pull that off, please share tips with the rest of us. No, fun can be about knowing your purpose in running and how every run, every exercise, and every stretch is supporting that purpose.
Habit #3: Before starting a long or hard run, focus on why you are running today.
Whitney Heins, founder of The Mothers Runner website, recommends lots of habits to transform running. “Knowing your why” is a critical mental habit that is the foundation for so many of the other activities runners go through each week (2020). Another blog, Margaret’s Reflections (2020), described odd habits of runners that reflect their commitment and are part of the fun. Things like the early hours, colorful outfits, bad hair (don’t care) style, and conversations that go beyond the boundaries of appropriate or normal. Each piece complements the whole of the running experience and runner’s life.
Going back to Forrest and just running; if he had included some cross-training, some yoga, and a few more sparkles, who knows what could have happened next.