I run four times a week early in the morning. I love being on the road as the sun rises, before the morning rush and school runs begin. It’s the best way for me to start my day – feeling wide awake and energised, rather than sleepy and grumpy which was my default setting before I started running.
Running was a dream I had for years but I could never seem to turn it into an achievable goal. Occasionally I would wake up early to jog around the block, but I was not becoming a runner which is what I wanted to be.
I am running today because friends came alongside me with the encouragement and practical advice to get my butt out of bed and on to the road. I no longer stare admiringly at the joggers going past my window, I am out there doing it.
There are visible changes to my body, I have dropped several kilos and I feel good. When you exercise your body releases two chemicals: BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) and endorphins. BDNF produces antidepressant effects and endorphins are natural painkillers. They make you feel good.
Exercise can make you a happier person.
Maybe you have been struggling to motivate yourself to go to the gym every week. Maybe you have never been sporty and dread the thought of daily exercise. Or maybe you think you are too busy to fit exercise into your schedule. I want to share the practical and powerful advice my friends gave me. These are simple steps that you can take today to turn your exercise dream into a lifelong habit:
1. Find an exercise buddy.
Your exercise buddy should be at least a step ahead of you – enough to challenge you to push yourself beyond what you think you can do. If your gym offers it and you can afford it then hire a personal trainer. You are more likely to be committed to someone you are paying to show up. A virtual alternative is the Nike+ Running App which keeps track of your runs and allows you to share your progress with your friends.
2. Use the ‘just 10 minutes’ trick.
When it is freezing outside and your bed is like a cocoon, it is nearly impossible to convince yourself to go out and run 3km. So set yourself a minimum goal of ten minutes. Anyone can do ten minutes! Once you are out there and the endorphins start flowing you will not want to come back.
3. Think. Pray.
Before I started running I never made time to pray in the morning, but my mornings have become the perfect time to connect with God. My running buddy and I never talk while we run so that gives me 30 minutes of uninterrupted silence – no Whatsapp chats coming in and no urgent matters bombarding me. I can clear my mind and focus on God. I also use it as time to focus my thoughts and plan my day.
Now that winter is over, October feels like a good month to get your body in shape and start a new exercise habit.
My name is Zola and I want you to escape the overwhelm and find your purpose. Subscribe if you want to connect and get free access to more of my writing.