I still remember the first time I fell in love with running. I had been walking on my new reluctantly purchased treadmill when for some odd reason I felt the urged to push that number 7 on the mph panel. It was only for a couple of minutes and I could barely keep up but in those two minutes, my whole life changed forever. Runners high, anyone? I have a pretty addictive personality and for most of my life that has always led me into trouble but this was a healthy addiction for a change.
My health and running continued to gradually improve. My first ever race was a marathon. Ran another three the year after that. And two more after that. I'm up to 6 right now. Still, something was missing. While I genuinely loved running from the first step to the last I couldn't quite get the same sense of euphoria as I did that first time on the treadmill. It took me a while to realize that the missing ingredient was speed.
Now, I can't honestly say I remember what it was like to run as fast as you can for fun as a kid. I don't ever remember running at all as a child. Well, maybe from a dog or a disgruntled parent. But from what I see on videos posted on social media it does look like fun. To be honest, speed wasn't that high of a priority the first three years of my running career. After that, I felt my running stagnate a little so I thought I should add some speed work to get a better time on my next marathon. Fartleks and HIIT were part of my running routine and I was able to shave 14 minutes or so off my best marathon time. That runner's high, however, still eluded me.
As it turns out all that was missing was...sugar. Running requires a lot of energy and I never ate properly (or at all) to feed all the extra effort. Once I sorted that out all that out, running became fun like never before. Maybe that's why running was so much fun as a kid. We were always so hopped up on sugar and stuff that running fast was just naturally enjoyable, you know? It's like we were getting a runner's high and didn't even realize it. I became so obsessed with losing that last bit of weight that I forgot about having fun.
I eat a lot better now. A fruit and protein smoothie a couple of hours before my run gives me the energy to push through my workouts with a smile on my face. While a 12-minute mile is just as far as a 6-minute mile, the latter is a lot more fun. And a lot more beneficial. Short high-intensity sprints burn more calories than a steady slow run. And continue to burn more calories after the run has finished. My appetite is also suppressed for several hours after as well. It's useful to never settle for what you can do right now. Always try to better yourself in one way or another. Chase that next personal best. Never be happy with you are able to achieve right now. And, most importantly, never forget to have fun.
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