You subscribe to a magazine. At first, you read it diligently from cover to cover, can’t wait for the next issue to come out. And then… something comes up and you promise yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break or while taking a bath. A few months go by and you sadly look at the pile of unread magazines unsure of where even to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Well, that’s the #StoryOfMyLife…
This is exactly what happened to me during later stages of pregnancy: My beloved Runners World issues were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, feeling all forgotten. That is until a couple of days ago, when I decided to look through them in hopes of finding some invaluable advice for half-marathon training.
Speaking of which, this is what Week 5 of my training looks like:
Monday – 4 miles + arms
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 4 miles + total body
Thursday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: arms, abs & cardio
Friday – 4 miles + HIIT & booty
Saturday – 30- 40 minutes of cross training: arms + yoga
Sunday – rest
As I was looking through the May 2015 issue, I came across the following article: Happy Hour, Approach a run with a positive outlook to improve your performance and your health by Diane Stopyra. It caught my attention right away because I am fascinated by how our brains/minds work. So when I read that ‘Exercise doesn’t just improve happiness, happiness can improve exercise performance,’ as Alfred Bove says, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicine at Temple University and a 26-time marathoner, I was sold.
You see, many times we run/exercise to release the stress of a bad day, when we need a little pick-me-up. Endorphines can easily lift our mode and get rid off insecurities. But from what it looks like, ‘We tend to think of being joyful as a personality trait, but it’s actually a skill you can acquire,’ according to a sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D.
There are quite a few benefits to be a Happy Runner:
- Suffers few injuries: Since ‘happiness reverses the body’s muscle-tensing stress response’, we are less prone to injuries;
- Performs better: When distractions created by negative emotions are removed, we are more focused on our performance.
- Feels less pain: ‘Happier people have more of the neurotransmitter dopamine coursing through their brains’, which makes it easier to tolerate discomfort, according to Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;
- Is healthier: It’s actually very interesting because ‘Ongoing negative emotions can provoke cellular activity that leads to illness, including cancer. Feeling joy, researchers say, reverses this process.’
If you think this got my undivided attention, YOU BET!
I came across a great presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at TED Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.
If you have time, definitely watch it. But if you don’t, what she shows in her presentation is how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. She was curious whether ‘we can fake it till we make it’ and found some evidence that our non-verbals govern not only how others see us, but also how we see and feel about ourselves. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.
Tiny tweaks can indeed lead to big changes. According to Jim Afremow, Ph.D., ‘Our expressions aren’t just an indication of how we’re feeling; they help dictate those feelings. In other words, if you look happy, you’ll run happy.’
So what can we do to our face to feel happier?
- Relax your forehead, so your brows aren’t furrowed;
- Lift your chin for an instant confidence boost.
Runners World provides even more suggestions on how to set yourself up for a good run:
- Eat well, make sure that you are not low on nutrients that feed your brain like magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D.
- Sleep at least 6-8 hours.
- Belly-breathe: Try doing yoga to learn how to breathe properly.
- Listen to music to distract yourself from pain and fatigue. *Read this post to see pros and cons of running with and without music.*
- Mantra Up: I actually like to ponder on a quote as I run, but mantras are great, especially when doing yoga!
- Be social and buddy up for your run!
- Buy a good time: sign up for a fun race or even treat yourself to a massage!
- Explore nature!
Do you ever fake it till you make it? What are your tricks to get yourself in a better place before your workout?
Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:
- Running Wisdom: be kind, be YOU, your health journey is what YOU make of it.
- Should You Run With Or Without Music? Chime in the ongoing conversation!
- 5 Running Must Haves: What are your running necessities?
- 5 Pieces of Advice You Need for Your First Half Marathon from Coach Suz: Do you have any advice to share with new runners?
- How Yoga Has Helped My Running Game: Any other runner-yogis out there?
- Running With a Dog: From bare basics to a training plan for your four-legged friend to spring into action.