How Running Became Easier
The hardest step for runners is the one out of bed—or so my dad used to say. While his advice inspired me when I defined myself as a runner, it lost its magical motivational pull when weeks of not running turned into years.
After a 15-year dry spell, my father’s words and a nudge from my sister drew me back. I laced up my kicks and hit the pavement only to discover at least a half-dozen reasons why running has become so much easier than I remembered.
While I had been out living my best non-running life, innovations have infiltrated every aspect of the running experience, including footwear, clothing, accessories and technology. These advancements address problems ranging from Achilles tendinitis to nipple chafing and everything in between. It’s not hard to say goodbye to the days of running in tennis shoes, weighed down by a WWE Champion-style belt holding a brick-sized Walkman that played my favorite mixtape on a loop.
Bore No More
My best miles were those logged with friends, but I also have vivid memories of agonizingly monotonous solo runs. I no longer run with a group, but the time flies by nonetheless. Before heading out the door, I decide what will best inspire the run—a playlist to match my cadence, an intellectually-stimulating Ted Talk or the latest buzzworthy audiobook.
No Longer Directionally Challenged
Whoever said that getting lost is half the fun surely wasn’t a runner on a schedule. It’s stressful, sometimes painful and—in an unfamiliar surrounding—can become downright dangerous. While getting lost in Baden-Baden, Germany, armed only with an unmarked room key and no phone or money makes for a funny story, it’s also the perfect recipe for a miserable morning. The GPS I now keep strapped to my forearm gives me courage and confidence to explore new surroundings and discover hidden gems among the familiar.
Banishing The “Ish”
“Ish” used to be the pet phrase of my running vernacular (e.g., I ran six-ish miles at a nine-ish minutes-per-mile pace). It was also a mindset which allowed me to fool myself into thinking I had traveled farther and at a faster pace than I had in reality. The truth typically nipped my heels on race days, causing disappointment in my performance.
While in my youth I read plenty of training advice, I followed very little. I thought I knew my body, my goals and what was best for me. Through the wisdom that has come with age, I now can take a different approach. These days I start by determining a goal, then I find an expert I respect and follow his or her advice to the letter of the law. When my training schedule calls for rest, I take the day off. The same goes for long runs, tempo runs and fartleks. Unsurprisingly to my 50-plus-year-old self, an amazing thing has happened: My running performance and overall experience have both improved.
Better Lifestyle Alignment
I was a single girl living in a single world, belting out the lyrics of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” when I ran in my 20s and early 30s. Today, it’s far easier to juggle the partying/training scheduling conflicts when parties occur once a month instead of thrice a week.
My father’s voice still echoes in my head when I hit the snooze, but I now also have several running muses that weren’t previously available. The coach on my training app is my new BFF, and when not actually in the act of running, I’ve found plenty of Instagrammers and Twitter accounts to provide me with daily doses of motivation.
My training goals now have less to do with pace and distance and more to do with showing up and getting the most out of the experience. I’m grateful for the innovations that changed the way I approach my sport and for my sister who inspired me to give it another try.
Sue Bergin Zebrowski is a freelance writer, mother of three, and newly re-proclaimed running enthusiast.