This morning I clocked a thirteen km run as part of my goal to see if I can run 150 km in a month. This is absurd to me. I'm not a runner, I've never been a runner and, prior to six months ago, the thought of running more than a kilometre in a single hit was to be laughed at. What changed?
A couple of things. I read a Chris Guillebeau piece on running around the world that condensed a lot of my own thinking around travel and exercise. This was at the same time I was travelling alone in conditions conducive to running. I've always walked a tonne when I travel and it seemed a natural transition to see more of the places I visited.
Getting from a point of being enthusiastic about running to actually having the fitness to do so was the first hurdle. I can't overstate how huge a help mobile apps are in this process, both for gaining fitness but also for retaining it. For me, two have been particularly good: Runkeeper and Zombies, Run. They're both available on iOS and Android.
I won't talk much about Runkeeper because it's straightforward: log your runs, keep stats and improve your time over the same course. The real value in the service is getting a couple of friends on the same service. Getting a ping whenever a friend finishes a run is a good mental kick in the pants to get out there yourself. Especially when said friend is killing it: if they've just done 20ks, surely one or two of your own won't hurt.
Zombies, Run is a little different in that it's a great motivator to get from not running at all to being able to put away a 5k without too much trouble. In fact, that have a sub app specifically for that purpose. The beauty of ZR is that thanks to its story-based missions of a fixed length, you're pretty much committed to exercising for at least half an hour each time you head out the door.
The other half of the puzzle is finding music that works for you, either stand alone with RK or to fill the gaps between story content in ZR. Initially, I fiddled with custom playlists of what I considered epic running music, but I found updating them when I got bored of the songs tedious. Like most repeatable tasks, lower friction is better.
In the end I found the fabriclive series of mixes are pretty solid. I've got a Google Play subscription and they're on that, I assume the other streaming services are the same. The series is up to issue 81 now, so it's easy to switch in a new one when you get bored of that particular brand of doof doof.
In the end though, it's about figuring out what works for you. Once you crack though the five km barrier and get comfortable with longer runs you can see some wonderful stuff. A month or so back, I had a beautiful sunset jog around the bridges course in Perth, lake BG in Canberra is consistently good (when it's not freezing) and wheezing up hills in San Francisco is something else.
However, it's going to be hard to beat the Long Beach Challenge course in the Pacific Rim National Park for sheer beauty. Smashing it along the grey sand with no-one else in sight and the ocean roaring beside you is something I'll never forever.
Get out there, get running. It's worth it.