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For the longest time I have been immensely averse to running. The mere mention of the word “jogging” made me cringe. How could people possibly spend their time running? There must be a better way to stay physically active! What is this “runners high” I keep hearing about? It must be a myth. Yes, I have run Bloomsday twice but I don’t recall enjoying any of it. Time has not rose tinted those memories. Then a chain of events quickly unfolded, the stars aligned perfectly, and I found myself in the river valley partaking in this sport of sorts. How could this have happened?

It all started when I switched to an Android phone since being an Apple user since 2008. I was majorly changing up many facets of my life and the switch to the Samsung GS8 was just the beginning. While adjusting to the new-to-me operating system, I discovered the Samsung Health app and it’s guided workouts… that’s when I went for my first run in the Spring of 2017. Yes, an app is what magically convinced me to try running. Now I’m nearly 9 months in and there’s a few things I wish I would have known when I began.

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IT’S HARD

The first few times are the worst. So bad, in fact, that it is enough to get you to quit. Your legs feel like jello, it’s hard to find a pace that feels right, and if you don’t stretch well, you’re in for a world of pain. The best way to keep on track is to find an app that guides you through it. Without the Samsung Health app, I probably wouldn’t have continued to run.

Finding an app that works for you is essential. The thing I love about this one is that you can pick your level of workout and a guide will help you throughout the entire run. From letting you know whether you’re running to slow or too fast depending on the workout to randomly saying encouraging things like “smile if you can” or “you’re one workout closer to your fitness goals.” It sounds incredibly cheesy but when you’re coming up to that 8th km, an encouraging word is greatly appreciated.

In addition to helping with running cadence, the Samsung Health app also logs my progress and gives me milestone awards for best kept pace, longest distance, etc. Having hard evidence and statistics on my achievements makes the process much more tangible for me. Plus it gives you a weekly summary of all your physical activity.  I could probably talk about this app at length because I am so infatuated with it but that could be a whole post on its own. I’ve also heard that Google Fit is pretty good as well.

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STAY HYDRATED

I made the mistake of going for a run without a water bottle. By the time I realized it was a terrible mistake, I was already across the river and nowhere near home. I would suggest two options: 1. Make note of working water fountains on your route or 2. Invest in a lightweight water bottle. The first option is dicey and I can’t say that city fountains are always reliable. I always opt for my tried and true Lululemon Purist Cycling Water Bottle II. My original one I left on a ferry this summer and it was devastating. Fortunately, I have a sweetie pie man friend who wanted to support my new found hobby so much so that he surprised me with this one. I will never lose it again. Bonus tip: the water bottle can double as a weight should you decided to stop along your route to do some toning exercises.

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HAVING THE RIGHT GEAR MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Not all accessories are created equal and this statement couldn’t be more true than with athletic gear. I have a few favourites that have made a world of a difference to my level of comfort when working out in the wilderness. We’ve already discussed my water bottle preferences and I assure you I’m just as specific about the other accessories I own. Let’s start from the top down:

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6 Essential Accessories For Running

1. Sunglasses are essential all year round in my opinion. Nothing is more bright that sunlight reflected off snow. I found that the Ray-Ban Aviators ($228) were the best sunglasses in terms of being lightweight and not moving all over my face while being active.

2. Bluetooth Earbuds allow you to run without having a cord smacking against your chest. I love the Sudio Sweden Vasa Bla headphones ($99) because of their wireless capabilities. Each pair comes with 5 different earbud sizes allowing for multiple fit options. As a female, I prefer to run with only one earbud in for safety reasons so the handy clip allows me to secure the extra wire down. Bonus: you can also get 15% off any Sudio Sweden order using the promocode “PRETTYSECRETS”

3. Hair ties can make or break your experience. Too tight and you have a headache. Too loose and your hair is flying all over. I prefer the Telephone Cord Hair Ties ($10) which miraculously don’t leave a hideous indent line.

4. A comfortable pair of leggings will change the way you run. The best leggings I have come across are the Lululemon Break Free Crop Nulux 17″ (on sale for $89). They are lightweight and moisture-wicking. Most importantly though, they don’t ride up or fall down. Bonus: they have side pockets for your phone and keys!

5. A supportive pair of shoes can help you run even further. I am obsessed with my Lululemon x APL Techloom Phantom Shoe ($180) it’s like a little foot glove with everything tucked in. They’re lightweight and have hidden laces so you’ll never find yourself tripping on them.

6. An indestructible phone case for your butter fingers when you’re skipping a song on your playlist. The Otterbox Samsung GS8 Symmetry Series Clear Case in Stardust ($39.95) has saved me from destroying yet another screen. I cannot risk having to experience that devastation again!

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IT’S REWARDING

For the first time since I was in elementary school I was actually able to enjoy the seasons changing and experience it in an immersive way. Running in the spring with all the fragrant freshly blossoming trees. In the summer when everything is vibrantly green. In the fall with that unmistakable scent of decaying leaves. And of course the less liked season: winter, when the snow muffles sound and the trees are naked, revealing the surrounding landscape. I felt as though I was truly in tune with the changes happening within and around me. Running can feel meditative at a point too, it’s amazing how clearing of your thoughts it can be. It allows me to exercise while indulging in forest bathing.

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IT GETS EASIER!

This is the part everyone wants to hear. It does get easier! Until this year, I hadn’t run since I was 17. Despite that seemingly enormous hurdle, I was able to get into a groove where I was impressing myself with my stamina. I’m at a point where I have admittedly drunk the kool-aid and enjoy going for runs. The secret to getting good is consistency and forcing yourself to go even when you don’t want to. Each time I have been hesitant and have pushed myself, I am always grateful when the run is complete. Our bodies can do amazing things if we just give them the chance and work with them at a reasonable pace. I may not run Bloomsday again but at least I’m one run closer to being a better runner in general!

photographs – CC Ruth

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