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!

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