Effortless Intelligent Running is a Technique for Running as well as Exercise and Workouts that goes against all traditional concepts and ideas that we have accumulated towards sport, exercise and of course running. I have found that following these principles brought about complete health and alignment with my body and body image. It is especially helpful when you are a beginner or when you are trying to get back into practice and It has also brought back the fun in doing exercises for me.
How to be fit and healthy without making any effort and all and enjoy my workouts again?
- Stay Calm And Relaxed
- Prepare Properly
- Give yourself time to warm up
- Keep it Simple
- Be Realistic about Time
- Follow your own pace
- You can always walk
- Don’t buy into self-doubt self-criticism and don’t push yourself over the edge
- Ease out of your Workout
If you want to dive right in – jump right to the Heading here:
How Effortless Intelligent Running came about
In my own experience, I have found that there are periods of very busy working and working-out that come with high energy and motivation. These are often contrasted by periods of no motivation, energy or desire to work out (or do anything) at all.
It has taken me 15 years of observing this rhythm in myself closely to understand and fully embrace this pattern as a natural expression of my own body’s intelligence that has the ability to naturally regulate my levels of activity, extra – or introversion as well as my creativity or so-called laziness.
After completing a 6 months period of complete (!) inertia, one morning I woke up at 6am (usual waking time is between 7:30-9:30) with the desire to run.
Despite the apparent weight gain, loss of muscle tissue and no flexibility, as well as all kinds of aches and pains, this run turned out not only to be the most fun and easy run I ever did in my life, but also it was a full hour of completely effortless and enjoyable exercise and movement. When I stopped running the last time at that time I was able to do 45-1 hour – with effort and despite regular workouts.
What we think
We are taught that exercise has to be regular to be effective. However, when we think of regular, we think of a time period of a week, or maybe a month, rather than our lifespan.
From my own experience as being a trained Health Coach, Yoga Teacher and being involved in many types of exercise regimes throughout my young life, I always thought that I had to work out up to 5 times a week not just to be healthy but also fit as well.
If I was not able to adhere to / or saw the prospect of not being able to adhere to that rhythm I was very likely to give up quickly or not start at all.
What I also strongly believed was that being fit, healthy and strong was dependent on being thin and lean with strong muscles.
I was taught to have a personality that is very performance driven. I enjoy being able to do things and also to push over my limits.
This is very natural for a young person. In the last years I could observe how as this tendency relaxes, instead a wisdom to know exactly what is needed in the moment grows more and more obvious.
All you need to do is trust that you know what is good for you and your body!
From there you will come to recognise your own rhythm and spontaneous activity and will find so much more joy in everything that you do.
Gone are the days of dreading exercise, pushing oneself over the limit, maybe even to the point of injury or exhaustion.
Gone are the days with no drive or motivation.
Instead there is openness and enjoyment of whatever comes up next and with that a much greater variety of activities and work outs that I do every day!
No Training, more fat! But healthier and stronger?
During my recent run, I noticed that my legs moved swiftly and my heartbeat and breath were relaxed and at ease.
How is it possible that despite of gaining weight and not moving one’s body AT ALL over a course of 6 months, the body ended up being stronger and more vital than before the break?
The answer is:
- Recovery: After a period of intense exercise our muscle tissue is literally broken down and torn apart. This is actually how muscle grows. Recovery is needed for the muscles to heal and through that to become stronger. If we continue and intense speed with no recovery, first exhaustion and then injury are guaranteed.
- Spontaneity: Listening to our body, its aches and pains tell us what it needs. We feel what is of most benefit to support it. Knowing deeply what is of most benefit motivates us for activity and creates the most satisfying result.
- Relaxation: Not believing in all the ideas about our body and self-worth in either direction allows us to enjoy our work out as it is. No goal to reach, no comparison, no self-blame. Equals fun and enjoyment.
Allowing oneself to listen to one’s own, personal body’s intelligence has many more implications than just physical fitness. This means that your fitness regimen may shift completely – From forcing yourself to do HIIT three times a week, dreading every minute of it, you may find yourself dancing one night for 7h with all your might – enjoying it fully. Definitely wanting to do it again. Or you find you do like HIIT. There is just no rule.
I have found an increase in personal well-being and more relaxation in the day to day activities. I know what I want and enjoy and know how to follow through with it.
So here it is –
The Complete Workout Plan for Effortless and Intelligent Running
- First of all: Stay calm and relaxed. Also when there is stress. Focus on your goal. But listen to your body. You know where you need to be and how far you can go. Whether you are procrastinating or whether you are doing the best you can do. And stay open – If you are aware of what is actually going on rather than what you think your workout needs to look like, what you choose to do may change drastically!
From here, your path could lead anywhere. Let’s assume that indeed, running or working out is something that you like to do (and it is totally fine if that this is not the case right now – you can apply the following principles for any kind of training scenario, or life in general).
- Prepare yourself properly. Of course, that includes all your gear – which you can read about on the web – Have you trainers ready, sports clothes, something warm if it is cold and your keys and phone if needed. Try to take as little as possible.
- Whether you are new to training or already a pro – Give yourself time to settle into the training session. This is generally understood as the Warm Up. You can start with slow movements, like stretches or shaking your arms and legs. This is not just great for your body and helps prevent injury, but it really allows your whole being to see what you like and need to do naturally today.
- Keep it simple. When starting out with running or any other workout, it is helpful to follow an easy track. Maybe just go straight. The less you need to look at google maps, avoid cars and bystanders, stop at traffic lights and alike the better. Equally, I find it helpful to just start right at my house. and then go straight in one direction. You may discover completely new areas – and may be surprised! Of course, keep safety in mind when choosing your route!
- Be realistic. Don’t expect to run for 2 hours if you have never done it before. In the beginning, it may only be 15 minutes. That is totally fine. Set an alarm for half of the planned time (7.5 minutes in this case). Once you reach this time you can decide to go back or extend. Remember that no-one forces you to make the time. Continue to listen to what you truly need and what you enjoy. You can always reduce or extend your session.
- Run precisely at the speed that is comfortable for you. If you find yourself being out of breath, reduce your pace. Inhale deeply. Slow down your breathing. Fill your lungs and belly smoothly and comfortably with air. This is most important: breath comfortably. Whatever that looks like. Relaxation comes first in this style of running or exercising.
- If needed you can always walk. It is totally fine to just walk for a bit if you feel you are out of breath. For however long you need it. Walking is an excellent form of exercise. And so enjoyable. You can always resume running once you feel you have regained strength.
- If at any given point self-doubt or self-criticism arise – or on the other side of the spectrum: the need to effort and push oneself too hard – repeat the first step and remember to relax. And see from there what you really need. It can help to know your personality. If generally, you like to give up quickly or push yourself too hard. From here you know again precisely how to move forward. Whenever in doubt, just stop thinking and see what you want to do from there. One moment at a time.
- When you come towards the end of your session, it is good to ease out slowly. Give yourself time to calm down if you moved hard or quickly. Drink plenty of water. Enjoy a shower after your workout. And maybe a smoothie or other snack.
Extra Tip: Running with others
Another thing that can often seem daunting, while having the potential to be so encouraging is running with others.
Since everyone runs at a different pace, we may hesitate to set up a Running Date. We may fear that either we need to be much quicker than what we feel we are capable of or we need to be much slower than what we would like to be. When running together we feel like we need to stay at the same pace as our running friend.
While this can work out perfectly for some, and can also be a lot of fun, don’t let yourself be discouraged if you think you cannot do it in that way.
You can benefit from the encouragement and support that having running meet-ups with friends bring, while still being aligned with your own capacity.
With Effortless, Intelligent Running I have come up with the following solution:
Meet up with one or more friends to start your run at the same location.
However, from there, each of you will follow the steps above, which will most likely result in entirely different speeds, need for breaks and times for each participant.
This is not just fine, but the purpose of this exercise. It is a great training in listening to our own wisdom rather than complying with and adjusting to others, all the time. While remaining open to learn and observe others and to experiment, we remain true to our own pace and capacity.
Nowhere the consequences are as evident as in sports. Injuries happen very quickly when we push too hard, and there are only small changes or results if we are slower than our natural pace. Effortless, Intelligent Running actually makes Running in Groups possible, as it considers the individual and gives everyone a framework to be together.
Start at the same point and time, then decide on a maximum time, depending on the experience level anywhere from 15 minutes for beginners to 2 hours for advanced runners.
At the end of your set time, meet back at the starting place or another agreed upon point in the area.
Now you can still enjoy hanging out together, chatting and being with friends. The perfect reward for a great training session!
I have found that this style of training can be applied to any kind of exercise. Not just that, I see its relevance clearly applicable to all aspects of life indeed.
I see the beneficial effects on myself and how through this type of training I enjoy working out more, which in consequence leads to me wanting to do more of it, more different things, which in turn leads to a more healthy and joyful life.
At the same time, I enjoy entirely the recovery months. Of course, I still notice “Aw I haven’t done anything for such a long time,” but I know exactly that this too shall pass and that in the perfect moment I slowly start focussing on training and working out again.
This allows me not to judge myself when not training and has given me the wonderful gift of completely loving my body and myself in any state.
This is a great gift that I cherish, especially as I grow older and know that my body will deteriorate more and more. It is beautiful to know that even in old age I will be able to love myself exactly as I am, even with wrinkles, fat and bones :).
I have also come to see that everything in my life follows these types of cycles – the times of business and retreat. I am grateful that I can live my life allowing these cycles to play out in their perfect and natural ways, allowing for complete spontaneity and variety – which finally is the actual key point for well being and health for me personally.