Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Running

I love running in the streets of Tokyo

Ever since I joined the ranks of the cross-country team of my American high school back in my teenage days, I've been an avid runner (Yes, I once was an exchange student in Indiana, my senior year of high school. I went to prom and football games and it was exactly like in the movies. But that's an entirely different post).

I've been running quite regularly since then, and it became a second nature. To me, running is a treat and I always look forward to it. It's the time when I can be completely selfish and on my own, lost in thoughts and music, and aimlessly sauntering about. Running is a strenuous workout and it's definitely effective to burn calories (perfect for my cake enthusiastic ways), but most importantly it keeps me sane and happy (a must when you live abroad). I also like fashion and clothes, which is probably my secret motivation.

Many of my friends don't like running but wish they did, and I think it's possible to grow to love it, just like I did. Once you start running regularly, your body starts craving it and it just becomes a part of your routine. Here are some helpful tips:

Make a playlist
The music changes everything. I make specific playlists for running, with high-energy beats and a few random tunes in the mix.

Run on your toes
Not literally, but run on the ball of the foot first rather than the heel, it makes you feel lighter and you can run for longer. It's a tip I got from a marathon runner, and it works.

Pace yourself
Don't expect to be able to run for one hour the first time around, as it's something you have to build. Start slow and build it up each time by a few minutes. A good program I recommend is the "Couch-to-5k" running plan.

The best way to increase your cardiovascular endurance is to run in intervals, which means bursts of high-intensity running interspersed with periods of low-intensity work. For example, you can run really fast for five minutes, then walk for one, then start again. It requires a lot of effort to start again, hence builds up your heart rate and burns more fat (and you can eat more sweets).

Make it interesting
Running on a treadmill can be quite boring. I much prefer being outdoors, and exploring new routes. Every time I go running I head somewhere different. I can discover so many new neighbourhoods and the sights keep my mind distracted.

Run uphill and downhill
Luckily the streets of Shimokitazawa are very hilly, so my workout is a mix of up and downhill runs, which can be quite difficult but interesting. I also like to run up the stairs that go over the train tracks (and watch the trains go by underneath).

It's a given. Before and after the run, it is necessary for your muscles.

Don't forget
I never leave my house without my phone (map + music), my keys, and some money in case I get thirsty or um, lost. I carry my Pasmo train card, which has money on it and can be used as a debit card in most shops.

Change it up
Some days I can effortlessly run 10k, while other days I can barely run for ten minutes. It's okay to change it up: if you're busy or tired, a quick and intense 20-min run is great, and if you have more time and energy, you can go on a epic journey. I love finding myself in really random areas of Tokyo.

Keep track
I use a fee app called Run Keeper, which keeps track the time, distance, and even shows a map of my wanderings. You can save your workouts and see your progress, although they send you a congratulatory email every time you "achieve a new personal record", which can be embarrassing when you've just started.

Make it fun
Essentially, just have fun and don't see running as a chore. It should be a time to let go of everything else and just breathe some fresh air and listen to good music- that's how I see it.

Hilly streets in my neighbourhood

My street

My shoes. Pink and grey Nikes.

Sometimes I see pretty things and stop to take photos

I wear the HMS tee-shirt to run.
I asked them and they said it was okay.

Post-running snack: strawberries and mango slices


Anonymous said...

Saw this post just as I am getting ready to go for my first run in about two weeks. I've been so insanely lazy, I think because it's hard to work up the motivation when you're not in great shape... I need to start sticking to it better. Question: When you run in the morning, do you eat before your run, and if so, what?

THanks for the motivations, V!

Vivian said...

V!! Glad you're running!! Don't worry and start slow, you'll build it up quickly and that will be your motivation!! Just be consistent, which I know you'll be when you get into it :)

I rarely run in the morning, but I think it's essential to eat a bit before to have some energy. I'd say eat a banana, and/or yoghurt, and some juice! Personally I cannot function if I don't have any food in my body in the morning. Some people can run on an empty stomach but I don't think it's healthy.

Let me know how it goes!

Desmond Webster said...

There is nothing effortless about a 10k. lol. You are a serious runner. Anything over 5k and I'm using a bike.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I would love to become a serious runner like you. I started the C25K program a month ago and I've enjoyed it/been doing well...until I hurt my ankle. I'm waiting until it's better to start up again.

thevoyageofv - I run first thing in the morning. I don't eat before because I end up feeling sick when it do. From the research I've done, no one has said that it's unhealthy. There's lots of information online about what to eat before and after a run. :)

- Carmen.

Kristina said...

I have been on on-off runner for a couple of years now. Always starting with great motivation and then something comes in the way of my motivation and I stop again... ugh! Right now I am pretty good, running 2-3 times per week, mostly outdoors but with the winter coming mainly in the gym. I do not run longer as I used to but definitely faster, which makes me happy :) I am still waiting for the famous runner high though :)

Natalie said...

This is unrelated to this post, but I read this article the other day and thought of you! Hope all is well :)