How to change your mindset about running can be caused by anything my change was a result of my uncle’s nagging. Ever since I was 13 years old, my uncle has been nagging me to run every day.
It all started with a simple “Just run a mile every day Ariv.” I freaked out. “I can’t do that!” “That’s too hard!” “Impossible!”
In the summer of eighth grade, I began this regimen. I ran one mile every day and bragged to everyone around me (including my PE teachers) telling them about this incredible thing that I was doing.
A week later, I stopped.
The peril of deciding I will do it someday
“I should at least get a break once a week,” my eighth-grade mind rationalized.
The moment this decision was made, the regularity fizzled. This incredible thing that I was so happy about doing, the one I bragged to my friends about, just became another imaginative prospect.
“I’ll do it someday.”
Someday never came.
Oh, and don’t be fooled, I did try a couple more times after that. And while I want to say I succeeded, I didn’t. I kept putting off my own well-being and focused on the rest of my life instead.
How I started to run again
Then the entire world went on lockdown, forcing me to sit at home, and, when I wasn’t doing schoolwork, forcing me to do nothing.
Out of this nothing came something. I was playing table tennis with my family one day, and out of nowhere, impulsively, I decided to go run a mile as a consequence of losing the match.
This was one of the most life-changing moments of my life.
I felt so good that I did it again a couple of days after.
And this feeling gave me a crazy idea.
How to change your mindset about running
“Why don’t I try to do this every day.”
And since April 20, 2020, for the last 196 days as of this writing and counting, I have run more than a mile every single day. And I have no intention of ever stopping.
This was, to say the least, a life-changing experience. My physique changed and I actually became excited to run every day. I remember very vividly telling my dad one day in the evening…
“Let’s go running.”
This act of running that was supposed to be energy-draining did the opposite to me. It changed the way I attacked life and whenever I felt frustrated, I would get up and just go for that run. Every single time, I came back, having forgotten the reason to be so frustrated in the first place.
Now the question is this, why was it so hard for me to do these things?
From my experience, the first couple weeks of doing anything are the hardest.
It is hard to love doing anything right off the bat. I like to think about it in terms of food. When I first try a bite of something, is it always love at first bite? Not necessarily, it takes a couple of tries to get used to something.
The same applies to something like running. The first few weeks were rough, but the moment I got past them, things started to even out. Once that happened, I set myself on an irreversible course towards pursuing and prioritizing my personal well-being.
I made that someday today.
Here’s how I changed my mindset about running:
- I Don’t Complicate It.
Running, along with going outdoors in general, is the last safe-haven in the world to the technological overtaking of my mind. When I get out to run, I get out with just me. I leave my phone at home (as long as it is safe enough to do so) and revel in the beauty of nature as I run. I smell the wonderful air, say hello to the people around me, and allow myself a well-deserved mental break.
- I Don’t Overwork Myself.
If I don’t want to run because it tires me out completely, then I do not run to tire myself out. I run to enjoy myself. Running should not feel terrible. In fact, it should feel beautiful. Now, whenever I run, I run happily, not as if I need to get somewhere. “If it feels like work, you’re running too hard.” – Born to Run (Christopher McDougall)
- I Don’t Time.
I made the mistake of doing this originally, but here’s the deal. Under no circumstances does it make sense to time a run. When I started to run for a specific time, I beat myself up every time I didn’t run a good time. It did nothing for morale nor did it do anything for me in the long run. Sure, it’ll show me if I am at a good pace or not, but at the end of the day, if this complicates my run, it is not worth it. I will sometimes measure how much distance I run because this is quite motivating. But if it is not the thing to do, I don’t worry about it.
- Catching “pure bliss”.
After the first couple of days of running, I started to realize how incredible I felt after I ran. While running may have felt like a punishment, the feeling I had after doing so was pure happiness. Once I felt that I held on to that feeling, and used it to anchor and motivate me to get up and do it every day. While I go running, and I did not feel this on the get-go, there is a moment where I feel pure bliss. It is hard to explain, but at a point in my run, everything feels so easy, the sky looks beautiful, and my mind goes into a state of calmness. When I go on my run, I wait for that moment and hold onto that feeling. It is something that keeps me excited to go running every day.
- Run in Beautiful Terrain
When I first started running, I ran the same 5 laps around my neighborhood (1 mile) for more than a month. I got very bored after a bit, and all for good reason. My dad took me to Coyote Hills (pictured above) one day for a run and it completely changed my outlook on running. The first day I didn’t run much, but there was a day when I realized that “nature is bliss”. Let me qualify this feeling. It was a gorgeous evening on my 3rd or 4th day running at Coyote. I ran more than I ever had before (somewhere around a 5k) and did not feel tired at all. My mind was just wandering throughout the beauty I ran through and it never had a chance to get disengaged and think, “am I tired?” I have this feeling every single time I go outside to run, and I highly recommend going out to a beautiful area in nature to run a first couple times. Now I have to try not to love it so much, otherwise, I cannot fathom running in my neighborhood again. 🙂
It was important that I did not make the same mistake I did when I first listened to my uncle, which was losing consistency. That one day break I decided to take led to a year’s worth of breaks. The issue with this is that my mind, like many, only focuses on the short term benefits I can receive and is not so receptive to long term ones (e.g. long term benefits to the body). I had to convince myself that these long term benefits are priorities because they are and should be, and try running every day. Even if it is just 10 minutes, I needed to get into that habitual rhythm where I can tell myself that I need to run. I used to run at different times of day, but I picked a single time and stuck with it. Here’s an option. I have told myself that I will not do anything in the day after waking up unless I go running. I can not have breakfast until I go running. It did the trick for me a couple of times until I had gotten into that rhythm.
I learned another thing about consistency worth sharing. I like to think about the habit I accrue as not the action of running every day, but a small thing that I do before running. It may be putting on a sweat-wicking armband or a moisture-wicking piece of clothing, but it should be something such that after I do it, I have pretty much locked in the fact that I will run that day.
For me, it’s putting on shorts. When I put them on, I have locked in my running for the day. If I don’t run for the first 30 minutes of the day, the shorts are there to remind me that I need to do so, and that is a very powerful thing.
My biggest takeaway from all of this is understanding that I matter. My body matters. My body is what will take me from child to adult to old hood. I had to recognize that the entity that will be there with me till the end of time is my body. The most important thing in my life is not a grade, college opportunity, job offer, salary, or house size. What is most important is my body. Those 70 trillion cells that do everything for me should be cherished above all otherworldly attributes.
I never stopped to consider how incredible my body is. How adept it is at converting whatever I throw inside it into useful energy to sustain me. How it helps me instantly calculate where a ball will land in reference to me and help me catch it. And that’s just the surface of it. The things my body can do for me are innumerable, and it is thus imperative I treat it in kind.
My body matters. My health matters. I matter.
I prioritize it. I go out for a run every day. I try and commit to getting 30 minutes of sun a day. I try meditating in the morning for 5 minutes every day. I try reading a book outside for an hour every weekend. I play basketball. I take walks with my family.
Anything, no matter how little or minuscule it seems, can make a huge difference on the inside.
Some of them are immediate, and some show up years later.
I take care of my body.
- Book: Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
- Book: SuperLife: The 5 Simple Fixes That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome, Darin Olien
- Blog: Amber Bodily Health, Amber Bodily
- Article: Why We Don’t Follow Through On Things, James Clear
- Podcast: The Rich Roll Podcast, Rich Roll