This post was written by Jason Lewis. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you are wanting to write a preview or recap your running experiences as well! The views in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Run Oregon.
The United States has secured its spot as the most overworked nation in the world – a troubling statistic that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. A growing number of Americans are overworked and overstressed, the result of pulling long hours, worrying about job security, not taking enough vacation time, and struggling to maintain work-life balance.
Some psychologists believe a scarcity mindset is to blame for some of the increased stress levels among many Americans. We fear losing our jobs. We fear losing our homes. We fear that we won’t be able to put food on the table for our families. And we fear the negative emotions that pop up as a result of our stress levels.
What’s a stressed out, overworked parent to do? Rather than running from our fears and responsibilities, it might be worthwhile to start running for our health. In fact, running has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress in people of all ages. If you’re looking to pick up a healthy habit like running, here are some tips:
- Never underestimate the importance of hydration. Proper hydration will keep you at peak performance – not just on race day, but during training as well.
- Make sure you find the right shoes. When it comes to finding the best pair of shoes for your next run, Runners World magazine recommends, “The key is to find what works best for you.”If financial concerns are one of the reasons behind your current stress level, the thought of purchasing a new pair of running shoes might raise your blood pressure oh-so-slightly. Can’t afford an expensive pair of shoes? Don’t worry. You may be able to find more affordable shoes at local department stores or discounted outlets.Even if you live in the city, consider purchasing a good pair of trail running shoes. To help cushion your feet and prevent injury, always purchase new shoes for training and races, rather than getting a used pair with worn treads from your local thrift store.
- Start slowly and be patient with yourself. Don’t just try to jump right in and run a twelve-mile Tough Mudder first thing. Overtraining and overuse are two common causes of running-related injuries. Instead, start slowly and try a program such as Couch to 5K first. After all, you can always work your way up from there.
- How will you train? If you live in the city, be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish while training. It’s also important to take safety into consideration. Anyone who lives in a city already knows the importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times. For this reason, you should avoid running with earbuds or while listening to music – especially if you prefer to run in the evenings. If you do run at night, consider bringing a friend and wearing reflective clothing.
- Stay safe on race day. Prior to your race, you’ll want to learn about any first aid signals (such as putting your arms in a cross over your head) or locations of first aid tents for the race you’ll be running. Consider bringing plenty of water, your ID, and some first aid items such as bandages with you on race day. If possible, try to become familiar with the race route prior to race day, and let your spouse and/or friends know about the route – especially if you’ll be running alone. Find more information here for the best running-friendly areas in your city.
Even if you currently feel trapped under an overwhelming stress load, it is possible to regain some of your life balance. Running can be a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall health and wellness. By following the tips listed above, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful race day – and hopefully, a healthy habit that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life.