The first five minutes were always the worst: mentally exhausted, my body just wanted to crash down into the sofa, and my hand to reach out for the TV-controls and a cold beer to start the lovely process of switching off.
A typical work day for me repeatedly consisted of a 2-hour-plus commute, and site meetings with poor coffee followed by hours of drawing production in front of a computer screen. Certainly taxing in what it demanded of me, but nothing extraordinary compared to many jobs out there today. My point is this: we´re all pretty done-for as we head to unlock our front doors after a busy day at work, and though spending the next 5 to 10 minutes getting out of your smarts and into your training outfit may not be among the first things you want to do after hanging up your work bag, the payback can be amazing!
Me, I like to run. It is something I picked up in High School and I guess, even though I’ve tried a lot of different sports, I’ve always reverted back to it by choice when I felt my body was going through a lengthy period without any form of training.
Now, I must say I’m pretty lucky. You see, I live in close proximity to large areas of forest and country gravel roads, so getting into an area where I’m more or less on my own is really easy. I wouldn´t say this is crucial to gain the most from a run, but I once took a jog around the city centre of Buenos Aires whilst there on a business trip, and I must say I found it hard to get into the training “zone” that enables us to reset our energy levels. To give you a feel for what I mean with the chosen word “reset” in the headline, I want to give you a short commentary from one of my favourite running routes.
Starting out is as always hard—it takes the body some time to get warmed up for the task you’re demanding of it, and this time interval is different from person to person. For me, this is typically the first kilometre of tarmac road leading through our neighbourhood and down towards the path leading to the forest. One or two kilometres into the run, and I start feeling that my breathing is coming down, and the rhythm feels steady. Most importantly, I always start out easy to give my ligaments, tendons and joints a decent time period to warm up—especially if I´m running during the winter season.
I mentioned the training “zone”. This, to me, is a state of mind where I no longer think too much about the technique of running; avoiding rocks, cars, people out walking their dogs and so on. It’s as if I’ve gone into auto-drive mode. My mind then starts thinking more freely and meditatively. I’ve had the wildest ideas originate from these running sessions for sure, and it’s not unusual that I also sometimes lose my way if I’ve drifted into unfamiliar territory.
So this “zone” constitutes nature’s way of allowing us to switch off momentarily and reset our energy levels. Could I compare it to what sleep does to us at night? Sure—I guess it shares some of the same benefits, but while we sleep, the body receives no exercise. I thoroughly believe it´s the combination of physical strain and allowing the mind to drift that leaves you with such a feeling of massive benefit and payoff. Not everyone reading this article knows this, but one of the reasons why we feel so good when we run, or do any other physical exercise for that matter, is the fact that the body produces its own anaesthetic called endorphins. This is our body´s way of smoothing over the discomfort and pain we might be feeling doing the physical work we impose upon it, and like the effects of a mild morphine, it makes you feel good.
A doctor I once knew told me that the body needs a good “revving”, as he would call it, once a day. What he meant was that the body needed to be physically challenged and brought up to peak performance ever so often. All the organs, including the brain, need a quick flow of blood to keep them working optimally and regenerating cells and tissue. He would indeed challenge me to make a point of running hard to catch the train in the morning, or push myself up a hill and keep my pace going over the top.
Now, I mentioned payoff—As everyone´s experience to physical exercise seems to be different, there´s no way I could sum up an overall feeling for pushing your body up and out of the sofa, but I can say this: my monthly budget for sports-related gear constantly seems to be growing…