The short answer: in so many ways.
The long answer:
I am still a fairly new runner, if you count from the day when I picked up running as a serious workout regime, not just as a once-in-a-while jogging exercise. I used to go for runs on the treadmill or use the cross-trainer and attend yoga classes, but there really was no rhyme or reason to it. I would try to go a couple of times per week, but sometimes also didn’t go for a few weeks.
Then one day, I thought there is this nice park nearby and it would be silly not to use it. So I tried to go for runs outside and make that a regular thing. I recorded my first Runtastic activity (the first time I ever recorded and measured a running activity) on November 23, 2013.
And then I wouldn’t run more than three miles (and less than 12 miles per month – you do the math on how many times I actually laced up my shoes) for more than a year.
I was having a bit of trouble transitioning from treadmill exercise to running outdoors. While I was able to run 5 miles on the treadmill, runs outside felt disproportionately hard, and after some initially terrible outdoor runs, I decided to ‘start from scratch’ and download a training plan from Runtastic to attempt a little bit of a more structured approach to outdoor running in early 2015.
I think it was the “running 50 minutes after 6 weeks” training plan. I had never run more than 35 minutes outdoors, so it seemed like a good goal to build up my endurance. It was also much easier to stick with a schedule than haphazardly just throwing in a workout here and there. I invested in some running shoes and I guess that was – unbeknownst to me at the time – where I made my serious commitment to running.
Mid-2015, my friend Susi suggested that we should run a 10k race together and since I am always up for a challenge (and it seemed to be the perfect culmination of my newly enforced running schedule), we signed up.
We ran our first 10k in November 2015, our first half marathon in 2016, and I have run multiple 10ks and 5 half marathon since then.
So, back to the question, how has running changed me?
I am in better shape. Duh.
Well, it should be obvious that I feel physically in better shape now than I was in my 30’s and I definitely have the numbers to prove it. I have always been active in some way and didn’t start running as a weight loss tool or anything like that, but I guess I was looking for a new challenge and something that I can do anywhere and anytime without having to rely on a gym or other people.
I stick to a routine.
As with a lot of things, people are creatures of habit and running has given my workouts a structure and routine that I didn’t have before. I have been able to stick to a pretty set routine for 3,5 years now and that alone is awesome. Setting new goals has helped with making sure I hold myself accountable and keep working towards new milestones. (I always do better when have a goal to work towards.)
I became a morning person/runner.
I used to run in the evenings preferably, but switched to a before-work morning workout a couple of years ago and it’s been a lifechanger. I feel so accomplished when I get to work and have already gotten my workout in for the day. Also, I love being out early on the weekends when most of the world is still asleep.
I am more self-confident.
I accomplished things in running that I never thought I would do. As mentioned above, I never thought I would run more than 5 miles, but then I comitted to a training schedule and set a goal, and when I accomplished that goal (first a 10k, then a half marathon) the confidence boost was beyond my imagination. You start believing in yourself and realize that if you put your mind to it, you can do hard things.
I am happier.
Running has been a stress reliever and mental outlet for me, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I feel overall happier. I am usually a half-glass-full-kinda-person anyway, but running has helped me to work through a lot things. I often use the time on my runs to think, reflect, plan, and solve and usually come back more relaxed and content. I always laugh when J sometimes says to me “you don’t have to run today” (thinking that he’s giving me an excuse to skip a workout) and I respond “but I WANT TO” (because I know what it does for my physcial AND mental health).
Why did you start running? In what way has running changed you?