Some Other Hobbies Besides Running

As someone who has made running a central part of my life, it sometimes interferes with my ability to pursue other hobbies and interests. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love running (obviously) and wouldn’t change a thing about how much time and effort I devote to it, but there are certain times when I wish I had the time to pursue other hobbies.

It’s good to have hobbies and interests, of course, and it’s good to diversify and mix them up, just to keep things fresh. So since I spend so much time talking about running on this site, I thought I’d do a post where I outlined a few of my other interests, just to mix things up.

Reading. Is reading actually considered a hobby? Lol. For some reason, it doesn’t strike me as what a typical hobby would be. But it’s something I spend quite a bit of time on! Since I commute into my job every day, on a train, I actually do have quite a bit of time to do some reading, since I have that time to kill every day. What do I like to read? Non-fiction books, Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal, the occasional novel, and football news. I also like to work out on occasion:

Gun range. I may not strike you as this kind of person, but I’m a big gun enthusiast! Of course, I have my permit and my favorite best gun safe, and everything is legal, so don’t you worry. But sometimes, not too often, I like to go to the shooting range and fire off a couple of rounds. You’d be surprised at how awesome it feels! It’s an amazing stress relief, and it’s something that’s great to do alone, when you feel like getting away and getting some solo time. Of course, self-protection is also important and I do carry my weapon on me at times, so being an expert marksman certainly helps me feel safer.

Gardening. This is a newer hobby and something I’m thinking of devoting more time too. We have a small little garden outside our place, not too much yet — just some tomatoes and cucumbers for now — but it’s an incredibly relaxing activity, really. You just buy some seeds at the store, and plant them, and take care of them to make sure they get some sun and water. The best part is watching them grow, then picking them when they’re ripe — and then, of course, being able to actually EAT the food that you grow! Everything tastes so fresh and delicious, it’s actually very amazing.

So, yeah — those are a few of my hobbies that I’ve been spending some time on recently.

My Run Up in the Mountains

Have you ever really tried to vary up where you do your running? We like to talk about variety here on this site, and how important it is to keep yourself motivated. For example, sometimes I will run on a treadmill in my home gym, out of convenience more than anything. The treadmill is right there in my basement, easily available to me when I get home from a long day’s work. There really isn’t any excuse NOT to exercise, because it’s literally two feet away when I get home. All I have to do is walk down the stairs.

But I hate running on a treadmill because it’s so boring and repetitive. Even if I’m watching TV while I’m doing it, I still hate it. I don’t know why, but I just do.

So many times I will run outside. We live in the city, so usually, that means running on the city street, in and around traffic. (Well, not literally). This is much better than running on a treadmill of course, because your scenery changes at all times, and you are constantly stimulated. But it’s still city running, with large tall boring buildings, and cars driving by at all times. So it really isn’t that scenic. Which is why sometimes I’ll try to really get out of the city, away from my treadmill, and get a truly scenic run, out up in the mountains. I did just that the other night.

Yes, this actually required driving up a bit north so I could get near the woods, about a 20 minute drive or so. It may seem strange to have to drive somewhere first in order to go for a run, and maybe it is, but I enjoyed it. The thing is, when I’m up in the mountains, I’m not just there for a good run. I like to hunt and fish also, so I make the most of my time. For example, this time I brought along my favorite best survival knife and did a little hunting –

It’s a small knife, so it’s easy to carry, and it allows me to kill small game. If you’re an outdoorsman type guy like I am, I highly recommend picking one up at this site –

Anyway, after I did a little hunting and fishing as a nice relaxing break, I headed on home after my run, which was about 6 miles up in the mountains. It was a beautiful day, and hope to do it again sometime soon.

Run Better by Feeling and Looking Better

runningIs is vain of me to admit that when I’m out running, I like to “look good” when I’m running? I know, it sounds crazy, and superficial, but it’s true — when I’m out in public running, I want to make sure that I present myself well, that I look good and feel good. Because it makes me a better runner.

So how to ensure that to run my best, I’m looking and feeling my best? Easy, I just follow a few simple steps.

Get in a good shave. Some guys like to grow out their facial hair, but when I’m out there running, I want a clean shave, and a clean face. So whenever I go for a run, I make sure to shave right after I get out of the shower. Not only do I look better without my facial hair, but I feel cleaner, and it makes me run a lot better. If you’re in the market for one of the best beard trimmers, then be sure to check out Jack’s Best Electric Guide.

Shower, and freshen up. Now it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all to shower BEFORE you go out for your run, but that’s exactly what I do. When I wake up in the morning, I feel a little dingy and dirty, and the first thing I want to do is feel fresh. That means brushing your teeth, washing your face, and hopping in the shower. It’s almost like you’re getting ready to go out on a date, but instead, you’re preparing for a good run. Again: look good, run well. You can go here for some electric toothbrush reviews.

Dress sharp. Following on from the going out on a date analogy — when you’re getting ready to go out to dinner, you bathe and freshen up, and put on your best clothes. Well, the same is true for when you go out for a run. But instead of wearing your sharpest slacks and dress shirt, you’re going to get in your freshest running gear. I have a pretty big selection of running shorts, shirts, socks, and shoes, that I all rotate from one day to another, and which all mix and match with one another, with color schemes and everything. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it works for me.

I Run Every Day

Okay, the title of this post is not 100% true, because I do not, in fact, run every single day. But it’s a phrase that sounds kind of nice, and I say it to myself as kind of a mantra to motivate myself — to remind myself, really — that I am a runner, and that running, and exercise, is really, really important.

We talk about routines on this blog, and how important it is to develop one; not just in running, but in all walks of life. Really, when you think about it, running every day is kind of a metaphor for how we could approach many different things. For example, I approach my “diet” the same way I approach running — just build on it a little every day, repeating the same steps, over and over. I don’t “diet”, per se, which is why I put it in quote signs, but I definitely have a food regiment that I try to stick by. Each morning, I’ll make a little smoothie with a splash of low-sugar orange juice, a couple of tablespoons of Greek yogurt, and a couple of handfuls of blueberries or strawberries. That’s how I start my morning, every morning.

And then when I get to work, we have a cafeteria there, and I’ll get a couple of eggs on a plate. I’m a low-carb kind of eater, so high fat/protein doesn’t bother me at all. And then for lunch, I’ll get some kind of salad, with a protein like chicken or turkey, and top it with all kinds of vegetables. For dinner, it’s the same idea — pick a protein like fish or chicken, a couple of vegetables, maybe a salad, and that’s it. Now, the point of all of this is not to bore you to tears about what I’m having for lunch, but to draw a connection to developing a routine that can better your health in the long run (no pun intended), and how it can tie back to running in general.

We all have our running routines, whether we think about it consciously or not. While it’s the physical act of running that keeps us in shape, it’s the idea of that routine, and us sticking to it, that really is the force behind we do.

And if you can apply those kinds of routines to different aspects of your life, well — you’d be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

A Clean Soul Makes for a Better Run

yogaI’ve been running for over a decade now, and yet still — I’m always looking for ways to get better. I’m of the belief that self-improvement is the key to life, and this applies to running as well: no matter how good you think you may be, there will always be room for improvement.

So lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on spiritual and mental improvement, and how having a calmer, more peaceful mindset can help benefit your physical capabilities. I have started to take this advice to heart, and recently I have been incorporating a few things here and there that I think have made a difference in my mental approach to running, which has allowed me to relax and feel at peace with myself. Before I go out for my morning run, it all starts with a little yoga.

I’ve never been a big yoga person, just because I found it to be quite a bit pointless, to be honest, but now I can honestly say I’m a convert. I absolutely love it. So after I wake up and have my coffee, I head over to the mini-home gym that I built for myself, and I lay out my yoga mat. Now, before I even get started, I make absolutely sure that my meditation is area is clean as a whistle — that means I’ve wiped it down clean, and I even do a little dust-busting with a vacuum that I found on Jane’s Best Vacuums. After it’s clean from all the pet hair from my dogs, I turn on a little soft-key music, and get started, and go for about 15 minutes. That’s all it takes, really, and after I’ve got my session in, I’m ready to roll.

I’ve found that this really does provide a marked improvement in my mental well-being, and it’s perfect for when I’m about to leave the house and hit the pavement. My mind is clear, my soul is clean, and my runs have never been better.

Improve Your Running Skills with a Home Gym

home-gymAs someone who lives and breathes running and fitness, I’m always looking for ways to improve my abilities and skills. If there’s something that I think will make me a better runner, I’m definitely interested in hearing about it. Lately, I’ve become a little fatigued — mentally, as much as physically — with running every day. I don’t know what it is, but I think I’ve hit a wall of sorts.

So I was talking with a buddy of mine, who’s probably in the best shape of anyone I’ve ever known, and I was telling him about this fatigue. Now, as much as we both love running, he made a point that made my ears raise up: sometimes, we need a break from running, and cardio exercise in general. Then he told me it was time to do some weight training.

Now, I’m a running maniac, but I’ve never really tried to do any kind of weight lifting at all. It just never appealed to me. But I took his advice and was determined to do something about it. The only thing is, I absolutely loathe gym memberships, because I think they’re a waste of money (a monthly fee), and I don’t really enjoy working out with other people near me. Also, I don’t think treadmills are very good for your knees. So what my buddy told me was to think about investing in a home gym.

I have a pretty big basement, but never thought of adding any fitness equipment to it. So I went on Google and landed on Jane’s Best Fitness, a website that reviews all kinds of home gym equipment. One thing that kind of caught my eye was a rowing machine (check out some rowing machine reviews here). You know, that machine where you sit in the seat, and row back and forth like you’re in a boat. It’s an excellent workout that exercises a lot of different areas of the body.

So I went ahead and ordered one of those. It got to my house last week, and I’ve got to say — I’ve been loving and using it every day. It’s provided a nice break from the daily grind of running, and I love that I’m getting some nice variety in my exercise routine, and that I’m also building muscle mass at the same time.

I think, as time goes on, that I’ll continue to add new pieces of equipment to my mini-home gym. I really like how it’s worked out so far.