For most of the last eight years, I’ve had a child in preschool. Fortunately for me, the fantastic preschool my children have attended is close enough to our home that I can run. Granted, it’s not really a very interesting route, and it has a lot of bumpy curbcuts, uneven sidewalks, turning traffic to be aware of, and there’s some significant maneuvering required on garbage day.
But we get it done.
I freely admit that I’ve always been proud of this efficiency. One of the hallmarks of my personal training philosophy is helping people find ways to insert exercise into their days when they feel so pressed for time that it’s easy to squeeze exercise out. Modeling this healthy behavior through the running commute has always been a way I demonstrate that I walk-the-talk.
So, eight years I’ve been patting myself on the back for my boring but efficient run. This is my final year of having a preschooler, and after the hundreds—thousands, likely—of trips with the BabyJogger to preschool, I made a realization. If, after the first half-mile, I make a right turn and jog one block, I can run parallel to my old, unpleasant route for most of the way to preschool. Doing this adds only about a half-mile to my overall distance, but it completely changes the experience.
But what do I get by veering off my well-trod route?
A wide open street with little traffic.
Homes that are seasonally decorated, giving The Stowaway fun scenes to observe and comment on.
The neighbors who are in their front yards or driveways proffer a friendly “good morning.” (This is much nicer than the cars who would honk at me when I would cross the side streets– despite pedestrians having the right of way.)
It’s really unbelievable how this little change has added so much happiness to our commute.
As I was running home a few days ago, I got to thinking: what other things do I do out of habit that I could change ever so slightly and increase the gentleness and pleasure in my day? In what ways am I stuck in patterns that, while necessary to get the stuff of life accomplished, aren’t adding joy? Can I tweak them a bit?
My mind is racing with ideas.
Most people think running is about strong legs and a solid cardiovascular system. But this revelation demonstrates what I’ve always loved about running: it’s so much more than what’s happening in your body. Whether you’re able to see an old idea in a new way or you have a wildly productive brainstorming session on the run, running stimulates creative juices in a way that nothing else does for me.
Hop off the well-trod path. Hang a right and see what new—and improved!—path is waiting for you right around the corner.
Good health and great happiness to you!