Dusting my Running Shoes: I Started Running for the Right Reasons

Stay Home, They Said…

2020 came with its unique set of challenges. My wife and I needed to adjust to home-schooling for our children, working out their care considering our tight work schedules. We were between nannies and since the COVID restrictions wouldn’t allow for an efficient interview process, we decided to go it alone till we were confident we would be bringing in the right person to mind the children. It wasn’t long before the weight of these anxieties began to tell on my wife and I and running became my outlet to let out the steam.

Triggers for the Decision

We needed to navigate home-schooling for our children. We quickly realized that children do not automatically sit still through their online classes. It was a constant test of our patience when it was time for their classes as they were easily distracted if the streaming buffered. Getting them some assistance was necessary and a deliberate effort to follow up with them on what they learnt in the day was required.

I would say there were some upsides to life during the lockdown: we made breakfast for the children and often ate with them. This would not have been possible pre-COVID as we hardly saw them leave for school before we were off to work to beat the Lagos traffic on the way to the office as early as 5.30AM.

The first weeks of working from home, the children thought their holidays had come early. We immediately kicked off the lecture on coronavirus and lessons on how to maintain hygiene during the pandemic.

The months passed slowly with growing uncertainty around our jobs and anxiety about the health and safety of our family and loved ones. We seemed to wake to a frenzy of webinars and Microsoft Teams meetings for work teams and it seemed like no one was sleeping much anymore.

Taking Control

I had just concluded a phone call and I felt my veins throbbing and becoming irritable. I stood up from my seat and as soon as the thought that I needed to walk off my immediate frustration crossed my mind, I walked to my wardrobe and pulled out the running shoes my wife had bought me but never worn. My mind was made up: If I could walk, I would run instead.

My mind was made up: If I could walk, I would run instead.

My immediate health goal was to destress. My first day of the run got my blood pumping hard. My line of actions following my anxiety triggers from earlier on were now clear to me. In the days that followed it became obvious to me that to achieve clarity on fuggy issues, I needed to go on a run.

After the first two weeks of running, I updated my vision board to include working towards a “strong back and endurance through running and strength training.” 

The other benefits of running and my personal favourites include the following:

It keeps your eyes and heart healthy: As an aerobics training, running ensures that the heart gets enough oxygen and workout to stay healthy. By staying active, you ensure that glucose in your body is well utilized and wade off diabetes which weakens the eyes.

It improves your mood and boosts your mental health: In the 3 months I have been running, I have experienced better sleep quality and elevated moods while awake. On average, I maintain an average of 1 hour of activity but even with a minimum of 30 minutes of activity daily you can draw on this benefit.

Running strengthens your bones in ways that swimming and cycling can’t. The simple terms in which I understand this are that running stresses and rebuilds your bones thereby making them stronger. This is how running differs from cycling and swimming.

Motivation to Run

The threat of COVID is still real but as far as keeping my focus on things I can control is concerned, running is my choice of action in response to the pressures that surround me. Pressure to seek instant gratification or impulsive reaction. Running has taught me to be more deliberate about living in the moment.

With my history of lower back pain, I’m motivated by the vision of an active old age. While working towards building aerobic endurance, I can ward off aging-associated diseases. This is what drives me every day when I’m “on the run”.

What the Future Holds

In talking about what my future plans it is safe to say that I will be running more. I’ve recorded some progress in my endurance and I’m confident that I should be fit for a marathon no later than 2 years from now. My strategy for achieving this includes engaging a running coach, socializing with a running community and being more deliberate with my diet.

I can’t wait to buy my next pair of running shoes.

Image Credit:  Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

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