This post was submitted by Brandon Doughty. Brandon is a ZAP Fitness athlete and former student-athlete for the University of Oklahoma. When not running, Brandon enjoys cooking, camping, sports (especially the Green Bay Packers), and going to church.
Being involved in a running community can be beneficial for all types of runners. Elite and beginners alike can strongly benefit from a community atmosphere. For runners that are just starting out, having a positive group of individuals around can be exactly what they need to get the ball rolling. Having a community for support and to run with can be all the motivation someone needs to finally start running on a consistent basis. It can be extremely difficult to motivate oneself to go for a run, especially multiple times a week. However, when a community of runners meets a few times a week it becomes much easier to get motivated to get out the door. This is due to the knowledge that other beginners are doing the same thing as you, and it can create a type of responsibility to show up because they are expecting to see you at the designated run.
Another helpful tool for beginners in the running world is veteran runner minds. The best way to learn is by trial and error. Often times these veteran runners have made all of the mistakes possible when they first started runner. Thus, they can tell you exactly what not to do during the first few stages of adjusting to consistent running. This veteran knowledge can be as big as holding back from running too many miles because of the risk of injury. It can also be simple as little tips like why the Soleus Running Watch is the best running watch to buy. Through this veteran knowledge, a runner that is just starting off will be much more likely to have early success. The importance of this is the fact that it is easy to stay motivated during new endeavors when one is having success.
Elite runners benefit from a running community in the same way beginners do because motivation is not always easy to come by, especially on a daily basis. With elite runners it is important to remember why one runs. Monetary gains are not often a motivator due to the lack of money in the sport, but the real motivator is the love of the sport. Love of running is an extremely important motivational tool for any type of runner. This is specifically important for elite runners because often times it is too easy to lose track on why one runs. Elite runners can often times get caught up in comparing themselves to other successful runners and obsessing over running fast times. As much as running fast is enjoyable, remembering that one loves the sport is the most important factor for any runner.
I can personally be reminded of this love for running by simply seeing all of the other people’s love for the sport in a running community. When I hear someone explain to me that running is the best part of their day and that is the reason they run as much as they do, it helps remind me that I am living my dream as a professional runner. Seeing people run for fun and because they simply love doing it is the best motivator for me because it reminds me how blessed I am to be where I am today.
Another way a running community can help all levels of runners is by creating a social and political group of people that will stand up for things that will keep a running atmosphere in the town. This group of runners may be all a town needs to push for a new park or trail system to create new and better places to go on daily runs. Doing this may bring more people into the running community, which will help make the town a more active and healthy place as a whole.
Once someone develops a routine of continuous running, the next step is to create a healthy lifestyle that revolves around that. Developing this lifestyle is vital for elite runners’ success in their sport. It is also important for everyday runners to feel and look healthier. These lifestyle adjustments essentially revolve around healthy eating and proper sleep. Having healthier eating and sleeping patterns not only helps all runners perform and feel better, but it also prevents injuries that are too often seen in our sport.
The simplest way to eat healthier is to remember a few basic concepts every time a meal is presented. Variety/colorful plates, push fruits and vegetables, and drink water. These seemingly common sense ideas can change an entire diet without making one feel restricted from their favorite foods. Having a variety of food and a colorful plate can help someone get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need on a daily basis. Bright, natural colors are one of the best way to tell if the food has a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Pushing fruits and vegetables is a more positive statement than taking away other foods that are not as healthy. If someone eats more fruits and vegetables, then they will naturally stop eating a large amount of unhealthy food groups. Finally, drinking water can not only keep someone hydrated, but it can also keep them from feeling hungry all of the time and snacking on unhealthy food. It can also help someone have less sugar drinks in their diet. Sleep is simple in that it is how a body rests and recovers. Getting eight hours of sleep a night can not only help someone feel fresher in the morning, but it will often times make a day more productive with seemingly less of an effort.
If all of this sounds like a lot, then take this simple first step: Show up to the next running event or designated run in your community and simply socialize. Everything else will start to click and fall into place after seeing everyone’s love and enjoyment of the sport. You do not need all of the answers today, you just need to get outside and start by putting one foot in front of the other. A running community will give you all of the motivation, knowledge, and tools you need to take running one day at a time.