This fall, three relay teams of four Daily Arts staffers will train for and run the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon. But as writers, we can’t just run the race — we have to write about our past experiences with running, how we are preparing for the marathon, what we look forward to and what we are afraid of.
At the beginning of this summer, I got up at 6 a.m. to run before going to work. I did this for about a month, and then I stopped. For the rest of the summer, I was in a running slump — disheartening, I know. When August arrived, I knew that I would have to run my segment of the marathon relay relatively soon, so I finally started to run again. But sometimes, the prospect of a long-distance race isn’t enough motivation to run. I’m by no means a professional runner, but here are a few steps I take to inspire myself to run as a college student preparing for the Probility Ann Arbor Marathon.
Plan some fun meals and snacks
It’s important to properly fuel and replenish your body before and after any type of workout. Yes, you should be eating protein (in whatever form you choose) and carbs to make up for everything you burn while you run. For me, that means eating massive amounts of pasta and chicken. Depending on the time of day, I usually eat a banana, apple slices with peanut butter or a granola bar before a run, and I love making smoothies with a variety of fruits and vegetables afterward. While those foods are great, there are other things you can eat and drink (that you actually enjoy) to ensure you have enough energy to run. Maybe you like sweets or pastries, or maybe you tend to chug a half gallon of chocolate milk — whatever motivates you to run. The cross-country workouts I looked forward to the most in high school were 7-Eleven runs: We would run to 7-Eleven to get Slurpees on especially hot days. It’s okay to treat yourself, in moderation, while you stay active. Your body and mind will thank you later.
There’s nothing cute about running. When I run, I’m a sweaty mess, my hair falls out of my ponytail and I probably have a pained look on my face. But that doesn’t mean I can’t feel cute in my outfit. Being comfortable, however, should be your number one priority. Although I wear brightly colored sports bras and biker shorts when I’m at the gym, I’m most comfortable when I wear a ratty t-shirt or tank and a pair of Nike shorts — not the cutest, but I feel like I perform well in them. Buying athletic wear can get expensive, so it’s good to have a few staples that you look and feel good wearing.
If you’re going to invest in something, it should be a good, sturdy pair of shoes that can weather anything. If you’re more of a gym person, a pair of tennis shoes will suffice. For any long-distance, outdoor running, I recommend shoes with an outsole that has a good grip. Your running shoes don’t have to be cute (they usually aren’t); they just have to go the distance.
Entertain (or distract) yourself
Running doesn’t have to be boring. Depending on what’s in your headphones, your run can be motivating and exciting. Your favorite pump-up music might distract you from the pain and the miles, or it might help you keep a good pace. You’re not limited to music, though — you can listen to an audiobook, a podcast or a YouTube video. When I run on the treadmill, I listen to my “treadmill strut” playlist, which consists mostly of Lady Gaga and Nelly Furtado, or a funny TV show recap podcast episode like “Back to the Barre,” or I watch a sitcom on Netflix. Listening to pop anthems helps to increase my pace while watching something funny makes the running experience a little less miserable. When I run outside, I listen to a variety of music: pop, country or rock. Nothing slow or sad, unless I want to run a 10-minute mile to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (10 Minute Version).”
Be aware of your surroundings, but allow yourself to enjoy a run with a little entertainment.
Get a running buddy
Running by yourself can be therapeutic, but there’s nothing like sharing in the misery with another person. Running can be individualistic as well as a shared experience — hence the concept of the marathon. I’m convinced that’s why I suffered through years of high school cross country and track and field: I loved running with my friends. If you’re not much of a talker, you can pop your headphones in. If you are, you can rant about the weather and the terrain. Regardless, there’s a comfort in knowing that someone is running beside you and rooting for you while you root for them. My best friend from home is usually my go-to running buddy, but since the Arts section has been training for the marathon, our weekly group runs keep me on track.
Find new routes
If you’re tired of (literally) running into people from class, pick a new route! There are so many different places in Ann Arbor besides the streets that are accessible to student runners.
If you’re in need of a change of scenery, Nichols Arboretum is every nature freak’s fantasy. The Arb provides enough trails (some with an incline) and has its fair share of woodland creatures and greenery to make you feel transported to another realm as you run. Want to run along the Huron River? Gallup Park is a short distance from campus and a peaceful getaway. Or, if you just want to increase your pace and mileage, there’s an outdoor track behind the Intramural Sports Building. Once I realized I wasn’t limited to running around the block, my running experiences got much better.
Your legs might be sore the next day, but otherwise, you probably won’t regret going on that run. Running improves your health and your mood — what more could you ask for?
Books Beat Editor Ava Seaman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.