Making Running Yours
By: Robert “RJ” Jones
Hello UVRC Friends! For those of you are long time members; I’m glad you’re still here! And for those of you that are new to the club; welcome! I’m sincerely happy you are with us and that we continue to grow this local running community! Now that you’re part of the running club I can let you in on a UVRC trade secret: you are a runner. Surprise! Perhaps that seems obvious or perhaps you have doubts, but I feel it bears mentioning because there is still the perception that there is some pace or skill requirement before you can call yourself a runner. That is false my good people. If you move with intent by whatever means are available to you, you are a runner in the eyes of this club. The distance you go and the pace you do it at does not define your runner status. I think we as humans get a healthy dose of imposter syndrome elsewhere and we don’t need it in things that we do for our health, wellness, or just for funsies. So long story short, you are a runner, welcome to the club!
Now that that is out of the way I want to talk about something related to my preamble which is running philosophy. A broad topic for sure but one that I think is important to making running part of your life, especially nowadays when I imagine that for many of us running is an anchor for our mental health and wellness. I want to talk specifically about ways you might adapt your philosophy to make running yours and finding your reason to run. And I’ll use the only human example I am 100% qualified to discuss and comment on, which is myself.
I’ll let you in on another secret since we are friends now, I used to hate running with an unbridled passion (but now I love it). Yup, this sounds like the beginning of an infomercial for a “life changing tool” but it is true. In the past I’m sure I have said such dramatic things like “running is the absolute worst” and “running is a punishment devised by an angry god”. A bold claim but even now I sometimes agree with it, but in the same way that having to go through the effort of making dinner after work when you are bone tired is “the absolute worst”. Point being, that until running became something I was invested in, it was suffering. I chose to invest in running by making it mine.
Running is beautiful in that it is one of the few sports that is absolutely unrestricted. No real rules, no real guidelines, no real limits, just you and how you choose to do it. Because I’m a control freak on the inside, I made running mine by making it personal through things that make me happy. Things like style and music. I’m going to stress the first part “style” because that was really the cincher for me, everything else was just frosting on what eventually became a delicious cake. I’ve often said; “glam game, is the most important game” which is because at least for me everything changes when I feel as though I’m “looking fly”. There is even some science showing that you do in fact feel more confident, engaged, and even productive when you dress for success. That isn’t to say that you have to “dress like a runner” but rather you can change how you feel about running by making a conscious decision about your outfit. For me this involves a lot of bright colors and color coordination which admittedly makes me look a bit like a Power Ranger but it also requires an investiture of time that gives me a sense of ownership. In the beginning it also became part of my commitment to keep running. I usually run after work so it can be very easy to bail because I’m too tired, especially when I first started running. But this got a lot harder to do when I had already went through the trouble of picking out my running outfit and taking it to work; like somehow my clothes would be disappointed in me if I flaked on them. So time and time again I would lace up, dawn my aesthetically formidable color coordinated outfit, give myself a quick look in the mirror with a “looking good buddy” nod, and hit the pavement. While I could have good runs and bad runs depending on a lot of variables I could always be in control of how I looked. And the fact that I knew I looked good quite simply made me feel good. Dressing up became a practice that I enjoyed that set the mood for me at the onset and eventually practice led to habit, and habit led to enjoyment and a source of fulfilment. Now while the outfit does wonders for the mood it can’t always be enough to sustain you through a long run, which is where the music comes in.
My running playlists are 90% music from anime and video games with high BPM, overflowing with energy, funky lyrics or lyrics in a language I do not speak. All of which together create a soundtrack for my runs that make it scientifically impossible to not feel pumped and energetic. You try listening to this: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=_qYYetCVBko and not feeling like you’re ready to go fight the bad guys and save the world. Can’t be done. And the lack of lyrics or at least lyrics that I do not understand or don’t really need to listen to allows my mind to focus more on the intent and feel of the music. Each song in the playlist has an intended effect or place in the run; higher energy songs for hills, heavy four on the floor beats for straight flat sections that benefit from good pacing, more bubbly songs for the ends of the runs when I’m running on fumes and need a boost. And again, going through the effort of crafting a playlist and seeking out songs made me invested in the run that they would feature as the soundtrack for. It wasn’t long before I got in the habit of christening a new playlist with a run or saying things like I can’t wait to run to this!” These curated playlists ended up being another way I decided to claim running for myself, invest in it, and eventually turn it into something I love.
Through style and music I decided to shape running into something that was unique to me. They gave me an aspect of running I could look forward to that made it easier to get through the self-doubting and demotivational slog I think many people new to running, including myself, get that make us want to throw out our shoes and never run again. But don’t give up friends! Running is definitely a physical challenge but it is also a mental one, and by adapting your running philosophy you can bring your mental A game! And I fully acknowledge that the ability to afford stylish running gear and having the time to spend crafting a playlist come from a place of privilege, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t countless other ways you can claim your run. I chose ones that align with my interests but for you it could be running to or around beautiful places, using the tracking paths of your runs to make images, or just claiming the time that you are running to think about certain things or nothing in particular and zone out. The more you can make running feel like it belongs to you, the better you’ll feel about it. So find something you enjoy and think of a way you can fold it into your running, to make your brand of running yours!
Also in case you were curious, my favorite songs to run to right now are “GAS GAS GAS” by Manuel (https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=atuFSv2bLa8&feature=share) and “Maniac feat Yann Ligner” by Carpenter Brut (https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=LcI8sfwxvIs&feature=share). They have so much manic energy it’s hard not to have a little extra pep in your step. And this song (https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ1N7-HyH1A&feature=share) which I think is Japanese so I don’t actually know the name but the cascading piano rifts and bubblegum vibes just make it feel like a happy song.