How Is Running Changing Your Life?: A Running Journal to Record Qualitative Progress vs Quantitative progress
Running can have a dramatic impact on your life in a variety of ways. Recording qualitative rather than quantitative progress is one of the greatest ways to learn about yourself.
We are usually motivated quantitatively (i.e., intensity, duration, frequency, distance, and so on.) through the limitless gadgets and apps we have become addicted to.
However, how many times have you gone beyond the numbers to assess your qualitative running improvements? You may notice a lot of things about yourself while running, but what is it like? What are the benefits, and what life changes does it bring? We may also be inspired by running. Running can inspire you to feel more comfortable with your own skin, take pride in your accomplishments, and appreciate the beauty of nature.
That is what this journal is all about!
Journal structure is as follows. You can record both the quantifiable and qualitative targets on the ‘All I Want to Accomplish’ page such as races you are preparing for and goals. What do you think you’ll gain from them?
You can also set targets to improve your health, such as weight loss, diabetes control, anxiety reduction, and better sleep. This journal is divided into daily reflections, weekly reflection summaries, monthly reflection summaries, and a couple of empty pages at the end to add more relflections.
This Journal will be a triannual publication to improve portability and maximise consistency.
What was the distance, location amd time of your run today?
How did you feel before the run -excited, calm, dreadful, tired?
How did you feel during the run & can you explain why you felt that way?
How did you feel after the run – joy, disappointment etc., and why?
What hurdles/obstacles did you have to overcome to run today?
What did you eat during the day, before and after the run?
An overall rating of the quality of your run today on a scale of 1 to 10?
Reflecting on the above, what changes will you make for your next run, and what positive things will you carry forward?
What were the higlights and lowlights of the week?
How is the run affecting other parts of your life, the good the bad and the ugly? Feeling fatigued at work post run, brisk at work etc
Did you notice any change in yourself? physical, mental, and behavioural changes e.g., weight loss or weight gain, happier, stressed and others?
Did what you eat make a differnece to your running? Or when you ran make a difference to your sleep routine?
Did you use any of the mindfulness practices mentioned in the journal? What was your experience of this?
Any insight you want to carry forward for next week?
1.Perception of ability onﬁdence
Perceptions of ability
Ability to cope
Perceptions of competence
Hi, I am Raji & I started running in my forties with no running experience whatsoever. I was brought up in a culture where sports are for ‘watching’, not ‘experiencing’ I am now a qualified England Athletic srunning coach. At school, I was easily dismissed from taking part in any sports as did not display outwardly any of the physical abilities to excel in sports, like standing only 5.1 feet in adult height. Yet, I managed to run my first Marathon in 2018 in my late forties & in 2019, I conquered one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas. Running has turned my life for the better in more ways than I can imagine. I have lost weight & kept it and improved my nutrition. I am much fitter than I was in my 30’s, and my menopausal symptoms have reduced drastically. My self-confidence has improved by leaps & bounds. I have also helped others, friend & family to find a new lease of life through running.
The idea of this journal came to me when I started training for my third marathon this year, the runner’s mantra ‘SUB hour’ became my key focus. As a result, I lost the pleasure of running, I fatigued easily and was irritable most days. I stopped social running as it interfered with my schedule. I overtrained and got injured. I was bitter & dsiappointed. That is when the penny dropped!
I had forgotten how great running has been for me, and I was being incredibly selfish. I started focussing on what matters and started journalling my running experience in this format and the experience is cathatric. I am relishing every moment of it, and I sincerely hope you will too.
I have also included some mindfulness practices that I find enormously helpful while running.
Run Happier & Live Happier!
Mindfulness Practices While Running
Tip #1 ‘Taking in the good.’
lot of good things can happen during a running session. We might encounter cute puppies playing with each other and choose to slow down and direct our full attention to them.
Doing so, you might notice that you start smiling; you may experience a fuzzy, warm feeling inside. And it’s not only your surroundings that can make you feel good when running – but your body may also feel great, especially when the endorphins kick in. Try to notice that too, for 10 to 20 seconds, making time to take in the good and appreciate each moment.
Tip #2 Establish a mindful mindset
Before you go for a run, you might notice thoughts such as “No, you’re too tired today” or “What if it starts raining and I get sick?”. The mindful way through this is to carefully notice the excuses that your mind tends to make. You might even give them numbers (excuse one: too tired, excuse two: the weather). But instead of taking such thoughts as the 100% truth, you might want to choose to let go of them and still put on your running shoes. If you’re feeling indecisive about running one day, why not try to run for at least ten minutes? After that, if you’re really too tired, or if it really starts raining, you may choose to go home. But at least you’ve given it a go.
Tip #3 Being with discomfort
Learning to accept discomfort is a big part of mindfulness. When we run mindfully, we may notice a feeling of tiredness, a slightly restricted breath, or simply a psychological resistance to running. In those moments, it can be helpful to slow down and turn towards the uncomfortable feelings in our minds and bodies, approaching them with curiosity and mindful attention. After a while, you’ll probably notice that the uncomfortable feeling has vanished. It was just a wave of discomfort and resistance to running that you’ve surfed with your mindfulness surfboard!
Tip #4 Mindfulness of the senses
Part of mindfulness is noticing when we’ve drifted off into thoughts about the past or the future, then choosing to gently come back to the present moment. Often, we do this by reconnecting with a sensory anchor such as the breath, sounds or bodily sensations. When running, for example, we can bring our attention to our feet, noticing how different surfaces feel to the body. We can also form an intention to consciously focus on the breath, noticing how the in-breath feels different to the out breath. Or, we can decide to focus on all the sounds around us – our footsteps, nature or cars passing by.
Tip #5 Breaking from automatic pilot
An important part of mindfulness is noticing our automatic patterns and actively breaking them. The next time you run, why not take your usual route in the opposite direction and pay close attention to how different things look?
How does that tree look from the opposite side?
How does it feel to run a sloped path downwards instead of upwards?
Or simply stop running for a short while and shake your whole body to release some tension!
each day we put on our running shoes, our body and mind are in a different state. One day, we might feel tired, our limbs heavy.
Another day, we may feel light as a feather, able to run like a rabbit.
This is how life is – ever-changing, impermanent and quite often out of our control. That’s why there’s no need to get annoyed with our bodies when they don’t behave the way we want them to.
There’s also no benefit in watching other runners overtake us, then falling into self-criticism. Instead, we should treat our body like a friend whose days are full of ups and downs – with patience and kindness.
Tip #7 Expressing emotions
As a physical exercise, running is a great way to feel, express and release emotions. If we feel frustrated about something, we might listen to angry music, such as hip-hop or punk rock, stomping our feet on the floor, a bit like when we’re running. If you let it all out, you’ll feel better after your run. But it’s not only anger that we can express, but we may also express joy or gratitude. We can listen to songs that make us super happy, really let ourselves feel happiness as we run and smile.
Tip #8 A new choice each day
Sometimes we stop running for a while. Maybe because we’ve been injured or maybe because we’ve just been a bit lazy. At these times, the last thing we should do is be self-critical – this will only de-motivate us and make things worse. If we feel down, we’ll be even less likely to get back on the running track. So, if you’ve taken a break from running, treat yourself with kindness.