Run Happy

Today is Day 2 of my Happiness Hacks series.

Run (or walk) Happy!Today’s Happiness Hack may sound strange to non-runners. I decided to “Run Happy.”

A lot of research has shown that exercise can help us feel better – all those endorphins and what not. But for me, exercise, specifically running, became yet another place to strive and achieve. And so, something that I really enjoy – taking a nice, long, slow run with some music – turned into training and trying to get a specific time at a race. For the past ten years, while training for half marathons and a few marathons, my Garmin watch was my only consistent running buddy. I looked down at her frequently to check my pace and to see how far I’d gone:
• “Was I going to beat my PR (personal record)?”
• “Why am I going so slow?”
• “Shoot. I’m not going to make it under two hours.”

You get the idea. The self-talk was not always so positive. My favorite runs? Long, slow training runs with my music. My least favorite? Intervals when I made myself go fast or races when I was trying to get a really good time.

So today I ran without my Garmin. Yes. I decided to “Run Happy” instead of running hard. I got inspired at the race expo yesterday when I saw Brook’s Run Happy-themed hats and shirts. I just knew that the “Run Happy” shirt and message was meant for me during this Happiness Hacks journey. So I bought it.

My only race goal today was to run or walk exactly the speed I felt like going. It was quite exhilarating to leave my watch right there on the desk in our hotel room. I felt proud of my independence. “I can do this without you, Garmin!” I thought.

img_9388My husband was also running today, but I encouraged him to go do his own happy pace (which is quite a bit faster than mine). We enjoyed the starting area together, got our requisite selfie, and when the race started, he took off.

I blissfully ran through streets canopied with trees. I felt the sun warming my face. I high-fived a few really cute kids. I stopped at a water table when I felt thirsty, and I enjoyed my water while I walked for a while. I even – get this – stopped at a porta potty! My normal race routine would not include a potty stop, because I would not want to waste those precious three minutes in line. But today, since I had no watch or agenda, I knew that I would runhappier with a potty break. The porta potty was not a high point of the race (no toilet paper and previous users had missed A LOT), but I was able to use my long-practiced backpacking nature pee squat. That was TMI. Sorry.

Back to today’s Happiness Hack. One of the ways I practiced “Run Happy” today was what I said to myself while I ran. I told myself things like:
• “It’s pretty awesome that you’re still out here running at 49.”
• “This is so great being out here with all these other runners.”
• “I really like running.”
• “The words to the songs on my Shuffle are exactly what I need today.”

img_9394I thought back to a few weeks ago when my friend Viv and I met for a walk. We walked and talked and, before we knew it, three hours and eight miles had passed. Yes, indeed. Eight miles of walking happily. Exercise that was so enjoyable.

I really liked practicing today’s Happiness Hack. It’s one that I’ll do again and again. My Garmin might get a little lonely, because I found my happy pace today without her!

This post is part of my 31 Days of Happiness Hacks series.
Thank you for reading!


I'm blessed to have five great kids (ages 13-23) call me “Mom.” As a summer camp director for the past 30 years, I've also had the privilege of working with thousands of kids, college-age counselors, and parents. I follow the latest research and trends on parenting, education, and children’s development and love to share what I learn!

  1. Wow, you look amazing at 49! I like that slogan “run happy”. It will be a year this month when I first started running. I am not much of a running person but my husband got me into doing a 500 mile challenge this year so I run everyday. From now on I will try to remember your “run happy” slogan, especially on days when I do not feel like going out. 🙂

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