There’s a new year here and its normal to be evaluating our running by reflecting on the previous years results and formulating race plans for the new year. Most runners are in this phase or have been in the past weeks. Did you get what you wanted from running this year? Did you meet or exceed your race goals? This year lets ask a different question, did we get happiness from running?
Regardless of whether you met your race goals, earned personal best results or reached a mileage target. The most important question to ask is did running give me happiness and fulfilment. Most of our time running is spent during training, race days are the reward at the end of a period of training. The training can either be helping to motivate you further or sucking some of the enjoyment from running.
For myself running will be a life long pursuit, the thought of getting out the door running fills me with joy. That’s not to say that some days aren’t more difficult then others, however most of the time I’m motivated to run and it brings me the happiness I need to get through life challenges and helps me be the best person I can be.
There are things we can do to make happiness this years new running strategy and prioritise getting the most enjoyment from running. After all, the more happiness you get from running the more motivated your likely going to be to get out running again. Consistent running and increasing mileage are key strategies to improving your running performance. Maybe its as simple as gaining happiness from running to gain performance.
Structure training for happiness
As you develop your running you understand what types of runs you enjoy the most. We should try to structure training to give more runs that bring happiness. If running hills doesn’t light you up, then do them less so it doesn’t feel like such a grind. Instead of once a week, do them every second week. Or do these runs with friends so you have company through the less fun runs. Think about each run you have on your program and how they’ll be best run with happiness. If you love your easy runs solo so you can listen to music, do them solo. If you struggle to stay motivated through long runs, find company or listen to a podcast or audiobook to get you through. The key is to find what lights you up and structure your training so that you get more of these runs.
Enter races that make you happy
When planning your racing schedule think happiness. If you structured your training with less hills, because hills don’t make you happy then avoid hilly races. The hills you avoided in training won’t help you run hills on race day and make the race even less enjoyable. Find races in destinations that make you happy and race distances that make you happy.
It is really challenging to run ultras and marathons, however they can bring great pride and satisfaction. But if regular long long runs aren’t in your happiness diary then shorter races might suit you more. Each of us have individual motivations and goals. The races you enter don’t have to be super challenging, it’s your journey to run, run it how you want.
On the flip side to that, if running 100 mile ultras and spending all day in nature brings you happiness then go and get it. There is a pure feeling of freedom and satisfaction that only running long races in nature can bring and if this is you, then your in luck because there’s more trail ultras than ever to choose from.
Choose your companion for happiness
There’s no right way to do running. Some of us want solitude on the run while some of us want a party. If running alone brings you joy, run alone. If running with friends brings you joy, run with friends. If running with music brings you joy, go loud. If you want silence and the thoughts in your head, turn it off and go inward. If you love running with your dog, then go with your dog.
The key is to make running more accessible for you. Do it more you’ll get better. Run with happiness more and you’ll want to run more. The logic doesn’t sound that hard to understand.
My goal this year for my running and the runners I coach is to bring more happiness to running. Do more of what makes you happy, while doing enough of the necessary training for improvement that doesn’t fill you up. Because ultimately improvement brings satisfaction and happiness.
What brings you happiness when you run? It’s time to find out because this years new running strategy is happiness. Good luck in 2023, I’m here to serve you if you need anything.