Comment: I’m studying Business Engineering in Karlsruhe (Germany) and normally work part-time. Furthermore, I’m running for the Brooks GettingTough Team all kinds of obstacle races such as the Tough Guy, Strongman Run or smaller races. My recent achievements are 3rd at the Fisherman’s friend Strongmanrun Nürburgring, 2nd at the Fisherman’s friend Strongmanrun in Switzerland and 1st at the Harzer Keiler Run this year. And hopefully many races will follow in 2015.
Usually, when people find out that I have quite an intense 'hobby' – running obstacle races – they often ask me how I manage to perform well while studying abroad, doing internships, traveling, meeting friends, etc.
First, there is no secret but I want to point out why running is easy to do compared to other sports, what you can learn from it, and why you should do it as well if you like it: it is one of the best sports to stay in shape, healthy and to improve yourself everyday.
I picked up and learned to love running a few years ago, but it is not that I have unlimited time and can run whenever I want to, nor am I totally dedicated to running. However, running has some advantages over other kinds of sports – at least from what you can read in textbooks.
First, you are not limited by special equipment. The only thing you need is a pair of running shoes, your running clothes, and in my case a running watch (whereas many people use their smartphones which I personally don’t like). There is no need for a bike, a swimming pool, or even a boat and a river to row on.
Second, you are not limited by your location. You live in the city? Great, there are plenty of other people running out there, big running clubs and nice tracks in city parks. You live in a small town? Then go and see some beautiful countryside. You live in the mountains? Excellent, I’m jealous, this perfect landscape is only made for you to enjoy while running.
Third, you are not limited by time. You can run whenever you are up for it, whether it’s in the morning before work, or your studies, during your lunch break, or in the evening after work. I prefer a combination of all of them for more change.
Fourth, you are not limited by others. Although many people like to run in groups (and I like to do that as well), your training schedule doesn’t depend on others compared to team sports like football. If you don’t feel like running alone just ask a friend, but you will never have to depend on another person to complete your training.
The good thing is, as you really don’t have any time, location or equipment constraints, you will have a hard time finding a good excuse for not going to run. Sometimes a lack of motivation can be hard to overcome and nobody is highly motived everyday (definitely including myself), however, almost always you will feel better after running.
Having said this, you might still wonder why you should start running or doing similar sports. Well, besides the fun I have, running really taught and still teaches me a lot:
How to organize myself.
This is definitely one of the biggest aspects. If you are running on a fixed schedule it is really hard to follow it with all the other stuff, such as studying or working, happening around you. You will have to plan much in detail, rearrange a session on the go, do one run in the morning before work and the next one in the evening if the time fits better and try to integrate a kind of flexibility in your daily life. This is also the hardest aspect since you need support from family and friends. They sometimes have to take a step back if you are in it for the competition and are going out for a run nearly every day in the week.
How to improve my endurance.
Just imagine, it’s rainy, cold and dark outside and you have to go out for the next 90min to burn your last Burger. In the beginning it might not be easy to step out of your comfort zone and leave the warm house, but in the end you learn how to handle the barriers in your mind and know how to push your body as well as your mind (!) to or above the limits. This really helps me focusing on my studies and my work. If you think that sounds nice in theory but you have to work until late evening, I know what you’re talking about. Upon working as a consultant during an internship, working long hours, all while preparing for a big race, I know how much pain it is to stick to a athletic schedule. It was tough but looking back it was so much worth it and I always felt better after it.
How to come up with new ideas.
Some people argue that if you get stuck in your work, you should go for a walk or a run to refresh yourself. Exercising or running up to one’s limit is sometimes the best way if you’re feeling angry or disappointed. You often feel so much better after it. It can help you to clear your mind or to come up with new ideas like this blog post for instance.
How to share passion.
Doing something you really like is fun, but it is even more fun if you can share your passion with others. Furthermore, you don’t have to be an athlete to do this. If you’re standing on the starting line of a marathon, you are one out of ten thousands who all share the same passion and have the same goal: running 42.1km. I still remember running over table mountain in the morning, nearly every Sunday in Cape Town during my studies abroad, for more than three hours with friends and having a great brunch after it all together. Yes, that’s also part of it. Recovery and a happy soul is important.
How to get to know my body better.
In my first two years of running I had some bad injuries (e.g. Jumper’s knee) but with the time I now know better and better how my body reacts to different exercises, to food or to the weather for instance. I believe this is a nice side-effect for your self-assessment you can apply in daily life all the time.
How to stay healthy (during the winter).
In the last three to four winters I was not sick. Ok, my nutrition or cold baths in lakes are also part of it I think, but I’m pretty sure that doing something outdoor keeps you healthier than staying in a warm room all the time.
If you need some running tips, an individual training schedule or something similar - feel free to contact me anytime. I would like to help you in improving your running skills.