Every Run Needs a Purpose

Running is a powerful tool in coping with depression and really just life in general.  The physical activity relieves stress while releasing endorphins that elevate the mood.  Many of the runs I do have the sole purpose of giving me release from the chains of depression.  

Runs all need a purpose.  Some days it is a cure-all for emotional distress.  Other days it is pushing for a new personal record.  And at other times it is also a chance to seek out new adventures.  

What happens when a run lacks purpose?  Most runs that lack purpose feel flat and unfulfilling.  You naturally fall back into habits and the full benefit of that run gets lost.  On the other hand, giving a run purpose provides a foundation for the movement in that run and helps you focus expectations.

How do you set purpose for a run?

  1. Begin by planning ahead.  Having a training plan that identifies each run and its purpose ahead of time helps set the stage long before you lace up your shoes.
  2. For each run decide what conditions you need to fulfill that purpose.  For example, if I am doing a tempo run, I like to get some faster friends along for the ride to help me push the pace.  Make arrangements to have those conditions met.
  3. The night before set the stage for execution.  Is the intention of your run to socialize with friends after work?  Then be sure to pack clothes so you don’t have to come home after work, but rather can go straight to your meet-up.
  4. At the beginning of each run, silently or out loud, set an intention.  Tell yourself, “On Today’s run I want to……”  Use this intention to set the expectation for the run and let all other expectations go. If your intention is to use the run as a recovery run, that is the intention.  Do not expect to set a new personal record on Strava that day and be okay with that because running fast is not the intention for that days run.  
  5. Don’t be afraid to adjust your purpose if you need to for that day.  You may have an endurance run planned, but just need to get anger and frustration out so you can be present for your family.  Do it.  Maybe you are tired from a long week and just need an easy run or have missed a friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Change your purpose to get what you need in your life.  

What are some examples of purposes for a run?  We often think of the purely physical purposes….tempo run, fartlek run, long run, and so on.  But for the majority of us, there are far greater and more important reasons to run than just getting faster or running longer.  

Here are some of the intentions I choose to set before a run:

  1. Social interaction – spending time with friends and deepening relationships
  2. Good for the soul – spending time in nature and reconnecting with my inner self
  3. Adventure – seeing and exploring new places
  4. Stress Relief – pounding out anger from a hard and frustrating day
  5. Recovery – moving my muscles in an easy way to stimulate recovery from hard efforts
  6. Building Speed – shorter bursts of faster speed to build speed for longer runs
  7. Building Endurance – long miles in an aerobic zone to build the bodies endurance

Picking the purpose of your run helps you be ever mindful of what you are seeking to get out of your running.  If you give running the chance, it will deliver far more than physical fitness.  It will deliver some of the strongest friendships, the best mental health medicine, ability to deal with conflict and challenging events in life, and so much more.  

What are some other intentions you have set for a run?  How do you give your run purpose?

Build longevity, embrace the delicate within and let the journey continue…..

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When Tragedy Strikes Close to Home

A woman woke this morning, laced up her running shoes and headed out the door. It is a routine that I myself do almost daily and it is the very thing that keeps my depression at bay and that helps me be the best person that I can be. I am a better mother, wife, and woman because of this routine.

Thousands of women do this same routine, rising before the family to get in the very activity that sets them free. For one Ahwatukee woman, when she stepped out the door this morning, she would never go home again.

I spent the day mourning the death of Martha Hilts of Ahwatukee. I have never met her, but I have shared the same streets, run the same roads. Several women in my running club set out for a run on in the exact same place only 30 minutes after the tragedy struck. How easily it could have been one of them. How easily it could have been me.

As I share my grief with my friends who are dealing with similar surreal feelings, I see us thinking of all the “what ifs?” This reaction leaves us afraid to leave home, afraid to run the same roads we are used to running, afraid that next time it will be our kids that will be left with broken hearts.

My depression, that little devil that whispers so smoothly into my ear, convincing me of its lies, wants me to give into that fear. But running has helped me grow stronger than my depression and each moment is worth living because each moment is all we have. There is no guarantee for the future and it is up to each of us to make each day count. I will not let fear or depression take control of my life.

So while I can’t control what happens around me, I can take steps to make my running experience safer.

Running Safety Tips

  1. Use Headphones Wisely – It is common to hear, “Don’t run with headphones” saying no headphones and expecting running to follow that advice is like teaching a teenager only about abstinence. Many choose to ignore that advice. So I say use headphones wisely – keep the volume low so you can hear sounds around you at all times, run with only one ear bud in, or choose a pair of bone conducting headphones like the Trekz Titanium so you can always hear your surroundings.
  2. Run Against Traffic – This will allow you to see what is coming, how the car is being driven, and so on. Is the car swerving or driving right on the line? That’s a good indication to get as far off the road as possible.
  3. Wear High Visibility Gear – Reflective vests, headlamps, blinking lights. If it is dark out, make sure that you can be seen.
  4. Stay Alert and Vigilant – Even with high visibility gear, always assume that you haven’t been seen. Even though the law gives the right of way to pedestrians, this doesn’t matter if you lose the battle with a car. Chances are very much in favor of the 1200 pound metal box.
  5. Make Eye Contact – If you are crossing the street or a drive, make eye contact with the driver before crossing in front of the car. Drivers, especially ones who aren’t active themselves, don’t always think to look for pedestrians. Don’t assume they see you.
  6. Wear or Carry Identification – If something does happen, identification will allow responders to get in contact with your family, identify medical history, and know how to best take care of you. RoadID.com carries a lot of great wearables, but sticking your license in your pocket works just as well.
  7. Run with Friends or a Dog – While it may not keep you safe from a car, running with friends or a dog can keep you safe from other people or wildlife. Both are less likely to attack if you travel in pairs or multiples.
  8. Trust Your Spidey Senses – If you see someone out and you get a feeling of unease, go a different way, cross the street (carefully) or turn around. In most cases, the odds are that person or situation is probably not a big deal, but don’t take that chance if your gut is telling you otherwise.
  9. Make Your Plans Known to the Right People – Don’t broadcast your running route on social media, but let a family member or friend know where you are going and when you expect to be home. Someone needs to know where to look for you should the worst happen.
  10. Don’t Let Fear Stop You – It is easy to become paralyzed in the face of fear. Use your fear to arm you with wise safety tools, and then get out there anyway.

As our community recovers from this tragedy, a lot of us, though we did not know her, will be remembering Martha Hilts and her loved ones in the steps we run each and every day.

Call to Action: What do you do for safety? Comment below on other words of wisdom that you can share with others to keep us safe as we continue our running journeys.

Don’t Let Opportunities Pass You By

                  “Opportunities go right by you because you think you’re not ready.” David Goggins, Retired Navy Seal and Ultra-Endurance Athlete 

Over the summer, I was debating whether or not I should do Antelope Canyon as my first 50 mile ultra.  I wrote about how it seemed meant to be because of an old photo I found of Horseshoe Bend in my vision board, but also how I was terrified of heights and fearful that I wouldn’t be able to handle the heights in the race.

After attending a ChiRunning Clinic and talking to the instructor, Lisa, about her experience, especially because she also fears heights, I felt a little more confident.   In attendance was also another runner, Tricia, who had signed up for the race as her first ever ultra distance.  Inspired by these two ladies, I went home that day and signed up as well.   Unfortunately, by this point, the race was full so I was put on a wait list with 114 people ahead of me.  For an ultra, that is a lot of people and the likelihood of me getting into this race was looking slim. Read more