That’s right. One Mile, every morning. Sounds crazy right?
I would be lying if I claimed I haven’t skipped a single morning, but for the most part, I try to be consistent and maintain running a mile every day. I grew up having little to no interest in running. In fact, I hated it and preferred group sports to maintain my physical activity. In the past few years I’ve participated in a few marathons and have immersed myself into the mystical-like world of running. So, you might be curious as to what changed? For me running has become a cathartic experience and a spiritual exercise regardless of the length of time or the distance of the run. Here are five of the reasons why I run:
Jump start your brain
Believe me. There is absolutely nothing more I would love to do when I hear my phone’s alarm going off at 6AM and slam the snooze button. The minutes between sleep and consciousness is crucial and is known as the theta state. You can imagine your theta state as your brain being very calm, free flowed, and positive. This occurs without censorship or guilt. You do not want to ruin this mindset by checking your phone for emails, text messages, or social media. Instead, I force myself to get out of bed. Then, I would prepare a small healthy breakfast before heading outside for my mile run. The results after? I’m much more alert, energetic, and eager to take on the rest of the day. One step at a time. To me, it’s almost as if I am training my brain to do the opposite of what it wants by shocking my body and mind first thing in the morning!
Sense of fulfillment
My personal daily checklist MUST include a form of exercise. Always. I recognize the health benefits it does both mentally and physically and it’s why I must have it on top of my to do list. That being said, I would rather get it over with in the early hours of the morning, then later in the day. Why? Because I know that no matter what happens during my day good or bad, I can set my mind to ease knowing that I have accomplished at least one activity during the day that was for myself. Not for anyone or anything, but for myself. I much rather start the day by checking off my own agenda, before I dive into reading my emails for the day. The process is fulfilling and rewarding and motivates me to continue my pursuit in small increments every day to reach milestones that I’ve set for myself.
Staying focused. Have you ever buckled down to your desk and started work after a run?
One mile takes about 7 to 8 minutes for me to complete. After completing my run, and once in my apartment, I would sit down on the floor and meditate for 10-15 minutes, while my body cools down. I’m new to mediating and have found it to improve my overall mental health and based on my research on the subject, many successful world leaders would apparently meditate in the morning as well. Overall, I’ve noticed my attentiveness and my ability to focus has been its strongest yet. This is especially prevalent when I’m diving straight into work or studying new courses in the morning, I don’t feel a sense of fatigue. Whereas, in the past I would have, and I feel a lot of this had to do with offering what my brain craved, which was physical activity with a positive mindset.
Resistant to Stress
Personally, running is a form a meditation. I can’t tell you the number of times I ran in the morning and tuned straight into a health podcast. I often would tell myself it would be in my best interest to bundle physical activity with positive talks in the background. It was almost like a 2 for 1 deal, where I felt I was improving my cardio and stimulating my mind. It’s certain that you have upcoming tasks, meetings, or e-mails throughout the day. For many people, this leads to unwanted levels of stress approaching your way. Knowing this, I would build a mental barrier or shield for resistance. The same way we decide to eat food because we’re hungry. Exercise and running are a great method to be used as a shield and alleviator for potential new stressors experienced throughout the day.
There has never been a moment, where I had finished my morning run and I did not feel happier than I did prior. I can promise there will be days you do not want to run. It’s impossible to feel motivated each and every morning, but humans are creatures of habit. In order to implement and embed running in your everyday morning routine, you will need to make it into a daily routine. There will be days where you simply do not have the motivation to run, but you must remember the process. You must remember how you will feel after. This is where NBA player Joel Embid’s infamous line of “trust the process” comes along. Your brain is telling you not to run. What you need to do is hijack your brain by doing the complete opposite of what it is telling you. I truly believe if you can implement this kind of mindset to other areas in your life you would put yourself in a great position to succeed.
This is my runner’s high.
Frank Huynh is a graduate from Ryerson University. He was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He’s currently a Sales Consultant in the cloud and data centre industry. Outside of work, he enjoys playing basketball, volleyball, and hiking.