Don’t like running? Let’s reconsider!

Taking on half-marathon in Paris an eye-opening adventure

By Pauline DiGiorgio

paulineBy the time you read this, I will be in Paris, France, hopefully with a big smile on my face, completing my first half marathon and post run, soaking in an Epson salt tub, and probably swearing off ever signing up for another distance race.

I know, polar opposite reactions to my decision to start training for the 13.1-mile FitBit Semi de Paris.

There were many mixed emotions, but my friend and running coach Donal Feeney from Dublin convinced me with my own mantra I had recited to him earlier on: “2018 is the year to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Feeney is a great friend who travels the world and chose our race in Paris. He is an excellent runner and has been an amazing support system, even across the ocean.

Running was and still is very uncomfortable to me. Although I’m pretty well-rounded and take on all sorts of fitness challenges — from CrossFit, to indoor spin, and even jumping on stage for professional body building shows — running scared me!

Who in their right mind enjoys pounding pavement for hours? So much time, energy spent, and such a pointless, empty, mindless activity.

Sorry!! These are just some judgmental thoughts that came to me initially.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this was exactly what I needed to incorporate into my life at this moment.

I’d like to express some of my thoughts and tips that might help readers with that deciding factor to start training and get race ready. Utica Boilermaker, anyone?

If you are already a seasoned runner, pass along this article to a friend or family member who has contemplated strapping on the running shoes.

Spiritual gains

My training runs offered not only a major endurance gain for my leg days, but more so provided psychological benefits.

I used the time as a form of meditation. Your mind is completely calm, body is relaxed and breath is effortless (that is, after a few practice runs).

I already have a daily morning meditation practice in play, but I think readers having trouble finding their zen might consider running as their golden ticket!

Here is a way to try it out:

First, set an intention for your run, maybe a question or a challenge you’ve been dealing with, then put it out there in the universe and have faith that this run will help solve it.

Second, choose a mantra, words that mean something to you, I like “I am strong”; “I can do anything” or “I can run forever, I’m giving my body a gift.”

Think about how lucky you are to be able to physically run and become immersed in your steps to cultivate a positive spirit. Remember, “I get to run” instead of “I have to run.”

Lastly, think about your other body parts. I don’t like to focus strictly on my legs. I perform a “body scan” and use ever sense, every muscle to develop a stronger connection with mind to muscle, which helps a ton outside of the training run with other workouts.

Running outside at first sounds like a nightmare when it comes to Central New York weather, but hear me out.

Once you get the nice warm clothes out, blood circulating, and the sun out, you’ll be looking around and feeling immense amounts of gratitude.

Trust me, studies even show improved mood, lower levels of anxiety, lower stress levels and decreased signs of depression as a result of running.

Time to train your mind

I’m going to try to explain this as best as I can. The mental game your mind plays before your weekly training sessions is dreadful. It’s worse than actually being sore post-run with your legs feeling like they’re about to break off.

I was able practice on negative thoughts that crept in pre-run and transform them to work for me, not against.

I soon realized that if I can get over that hump and turn those thoughts into positive ones, I was soon applying the same process later in the day.

I believe this “mind training” I was using before running could also be incorporated into my work and personal life.

Your mind is like a muscle on your body — you must repeat reps, practice and it will become stronger.

Tap into expertise

This is more of a tip: Get yourself a running coach. They don’t have to be a professional coach and are a lot easier to find than you think.

Just find someone more experienced than you. Check the race event’s Facebook group and you will find that runners are super sweet and hang in groups! The coach will help you get started on your novice training program, which most likely you can find online on the race event’s registration webpage.

Find a person that has a few races under his or her belt and will allow you to text or email them every time you finish a training session to keep you accountable.

• Pauline DiGiorgio is a fitness ambassador and Group X instructor at Retro Fitness gyms. Questions? Email her at ptlifts@gmail.com.

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