Today we celebrate Global Running Day, and for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Kelsey, a Dorai co-founder, and I’m very much in love with running, BUT it hasn’t always been that way. Running has a fairly polarizing reputation, people either love it or hate it, but I think it’s much more nuanced. Often if you dig a little deeper you’ll come to learn that many ‘runners’ find the act of running quite difficult or unpleasant, but they do it because of the way it makes them feel. Similarly, those who proclaim to hate running often have less than the ideal experience of running in gym class or as a form of punishment in team sports.
I can relate to both of these having grown up a soccer player (through college) and later discovered the benefits of running for my mental health, mood, and social outlet towards the end of college. I found that when I was going through a difficult phase socially or a stressful week at school, running has this profound effect of calming down my inevitable monkey mind that I still wake up with every day. I routinely feel like I’m operating on too high of a frequency where everything is elevated from thoughts to emotions, which makes it hard to focus and frankly exhausting to navigate. Then 20-30 minutes into a run, something magical happens in my brain to change frequencies and replace this nervous energy with a more optimistic outlook for the day. Don’t get me wrong, I still frequently dread getting out to the door and procrastinate, but I know that I’ll never regret it and my future self will be so much more content after.
About 10 years from when I started calling myself ‘a runner’ I’ve completed 9 marathons and will be headed back to Boston in October to race my third Boston Marathon. I’ve made some of my deepest friendships with runners who relate and offer the best advice halfway into the long run (or run therapy as we call it). I’ve seen the benefits of balance that running has brought to me by creating an outlet away from our startup which can easily consume your identity. I hope running (or hiking, biking, swimming, etc) can help others navigate the ups and downs of life as it has for me.
Here are a few tips for beginners finding their way into running to make it less ‘miserable’:
- Start super easy and take walk breaks: too often newer runners push it too hard and of course, it’s uncomfortable. Instead, start with a small goal such as run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute. While you’re running, focus on keeping an easy enough pace that you could still talk if needed. It’s better to be more consistent and run 10 minutes/day 4-6 times a week than 30 minutes 1-2 times a week.
- Listen to your favorite podcast and go house hunting: I save my favorite podcasts (which are recently Armchair Expert, How I Built This, and Business Wars) for my longer runs to keep my mind entertained. I’m sharing my favorite sports bras below that have a slot for your phone so you can easily bring it along. I also like to plan my routine in some of my favorite neighborhoods to look at the houses and get inspiration for the future.
- Join a run club or find a running buddy: this is hands down the most impactful factor in my love of running. After college, I moved to a new city and knew NO ONE, so I went to the local Lululemon running club and met a handful of girls who became my running buddies for years. I did the same thing when I moved to San Francisco, it’s such a great way to meet like-minded friends as an adult. You’re also a lot less likely to bail on a friend in the morning and the miles fly by when you’re having a good convo.
- Get your run in before 12 pm: not only is it a great way to start your day feeling accomplished, you’re much less likely to de-prioritize your run when you get it done in the morning versus waiting for the afternoon. Also, I am a big fan of a little caffeine before a run to help your blood flow and this is much better first thing in the morning.
- Stick with it for 3 weeks: commit to running a few days a week for 21 days. There’s a lot of good research about habits, but specific to running, that seems about the time your brain and body really start to feel the extra endorphins and build up more physical resilience.
Another reason running is such a nice option for fitness is that it requires very little equipment and can be done anywhere. While you can keep it pretty minimal, here are a few products that are essential to my running routine.
Sports Bras with Phone Pockets:
My favorites are Oiselle Flyout Bra and Brooks Drive 3 Pocket Rin Bra. I’ve tried about 4 other brands, but find I always come back to these and have each in a few colors. They securely hold your phone and I don’t really notice it (unlike pockets in leggings or shorts). I always run with a phone both for safety and entertainment. These bras provide the ideal holder and they fit really well. They don’t chaff, the cut is cute and comfortable on the shoulders and the material is of high quality.
TIY Hair ties:
I’ve tested my fair share of hair ties with the criteria, it must securely hold thick hair, it cannot break my hair and it cannot pull or give me a headache. Conventional hair ties don’t check all the boxes, and let’s be honest you have 1-2 favorites that you keep wearing until they break. TIY ties are brilliant, you pick the length, tie it yourself and the double loop means less grabbing and pulling. I wear these exclusively and don’t get headaches from hair ties like I used to.
I drink 2 different brands almost every day and it keeps me feeling great long after my run, even as the weather gets hot. I love Nuun tablets, I put one in my water bottle first thing in the morning. Later in the day I like to mix a scoop of Redmond’s Relyte (Pina Colada is my fave) into a water bottle.
Squirrel Nut Butter:
As milage goes up, especially in the summer months, this Squirrel Nut Butter is my go-to for preventing chaffing. Comfy, sweat-whicking materials are also a must. This stick is easy and lasts a long time!
Nathan Hand Bottle:
I don’t take this on every run, but definitely on the longer runs. I like to fill it with Nuun for a little extra boost of flavor and energy. This bottle is lightweight and easy to hold.
These are the best non-slip headbands and come in all sorts of fun colors and patterns. Unlike many headbands that grab and pull hair, these have a felt underside that gently grips onto hair to stay perfectly in place. I have them in about 5 different colors to coordinate with various race outfits.
We hope you enjoy these running essentials as much as I do! Happy running!