I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying muay thai! Finding an exercise that you enjoy is so important. Exercise can feel like such a chore, so finding an exercise routine that’s fun makes it so much easier to stay active and healthy.
For me, my exercise of choice is running, which is very surprising considering how much I loathed running when I was a kid. I did everything I possibly could to get out of running.
I don’t know if you remember middle school P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class. I understood that it was incorporated into our education to keep us active and healthy, but the actual activities they made us do were awful. We did the pacer test, which is literally running back and forth across the gym to these timed beeps, and the mile test, which was literally us running a path around the school. These activities were boring and I was often sub par at them. As a straight-A student, getting a C on anything was absolutely devastating. No wonder I avoided gym like the plague.
In high school, I managed to get out of gym because I was in the marching band, which at Evergreen was considered a sport. I loved marching band! The activities we did like running and push-ups and marching drills had a purpose. I actually had the opportunity to engage my mind and was never given a failing grade. Marching band was infinitely better than P.E. Unfortunately, the time commitment and unavoidable drama in the marching band was what kept me from pursuing it in college. I wanted to focus on my studies and my writing, so marching band was the first thing to go. I barely exercised at all while in college and never went running. I just wasn’t motivated to go out of my way to exercise.
It wasn’t until after college that I decided to give running another go. If you remember my very first post on Seven Degrees of Smudde, Acting on Impulse, I talked about how I decided to sign up for a 5k randomly. Everyone at the animal shelter I was volunteering at was talking about the race and lots of my friends on Facebook were talking about running 5ks and marathons and obstacle courses. I was feeling a little lost after graduating from college so I decided to give it a go.
One day I just started running. I ran everywhere. I ran the track at the gym, I ran the walking paths at the park, I ran the mini-track at the local elementary school. I ran in the sun, I ran in the rain, I ran at night. It became an obsession and I often felt guilty if I skipped a day. I needed to be ready for my first 5k.
Well the 5k came and went and I still felt the need to run. Running had become an addiction. I needed to do it to feel healthy and productive. If I went too long without running, I would start to feeling groggy and weighed down. I just wouldn’t feel like myself.
Nowadays, I try to run at least two times a week and go to the gym at least three times a week. I’ve noticed that running can do a number on your knees and ankles so I try to break up my running with other exercises, like the stair stepper or jumping jacks.
I know why I like running so much. Just like you with your muay thai, my runs are my time to get away from the world and focus 100 percent on my body. It helps me clear my head and prepare to tackle big projects, at work or at home. I can also do it at my own pace now and I’m not graded for my abilities, like I was in school. That makes running so much less stressful.
I also like running because running is one of the few activities that I can do completely by myself without seeming weird. People don’t bother me while I’m running.
Let me break it down for you.
If I go to a movie by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I go to dinner by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I sit down on the bus and open my book, people still think it’s okay to talk to me. Same goes for writing at work.
But, when you see someone running with their headphones in, you know not to bother them. They’re doing something important, something impressive, and they should be left alone. If you interrupt them they might lose their pace. No one seems to think that about reading or being by yourself. It’s only while I’m running that people aren’t bothered when I don’t stop to say hello or make small talk.
Call me anti-social, but I also like having a time during the day when I know no one will bother me. Running, to me, is the purest form of me time. A time when I can completely ignore other people, give them the cold shoulder even, and I won’t offend anyone. It’s nice to have that time set aside. It’s nice to know that I can give in to my loner tendencies during my run and no one will start talking behind my back about how rude I am.
I absolutely love running. It’s one of my favorite things.