Minimalism was trending before the current worldwide pandemic, however, it’s now playing an especially huge role in our lives. As races are nixed from the calendar, training camps are canceled, and we’re spending a lot more time at home, we have an opportunity to pare down our lives to what matters most — which is the core tenant of minimalism.
Beyond the current state of affairs, it’s always a good idea to take stock of your running life and make it as simple and streamlined as possible. Making it easier to get out the door, to log meals and miles and to actually enjoy each run means you’ll become a better runner with less effort.
Here are a few ways to apply minimalism to your running life — and that doesn’t just mean cleaning your gear closet.
PARE DOWN YOUR ROUTINE
If you’ve been running for a long time, you may have accumulated some time-consuming routines. Driving farther and farther away to get to the ‘perfect’ hill for intervals, spending a lot of time choosing exactly what to wear for the weather, waiting to run because you forgot to charge your watch … the list goes on. Sometimes, the more serious about running we get, the more complicated we make it. Instead, pare down: Make a plan to run from home for as many runs as possible, know what to wear at different temperatures, and set up a charging station in an easy-access place so you remember to plug in after every run.
AIM TO SPARK JOY
If those two-minute intervals make you miserable (and you don’t feel good about them even after they’re completed), replace them with the speed workout that makes you feel like you’re flying. Similarly, if you’re feeling like your long run puts you behind and makes you grumpy for the rest of the day, figure out how short you can make your long run so you have more time at home and don’t feel stressed for the rest of the day.
SKIP A FEW RACES
If the current situation has made you realize you’re happy running for the sake of running, not because of competition, it might be time to consider your racing calendar. For some people, races are exciting and a chance to prove yourself and push your limits. For others, races just add stress — in terms of expectations, expenses and time. Maybe you’re happier planning a running trip with some friends and hosting a fun training camp. Or maybe you’d prefer going somewhere quiet, like a rustic cabin, and spending a weekend doing longer runs and hikes with your significant other. A goal doesn’t have to be a race: Figure out what makes you happy and do more of that. Make the space by cutting out the events that don’t thrill you.
SIMPLIFY YOUR TRACKING
If you’re using an app like MyFitnessPal to track your food and water intake, take 30 minutes to simplify the recording process by inputting your typical meals so they’re easier to log. This is also a great time to use your Frequent Foods to make a master shopping list, so grocery shopping is easier, and to update your fitness/weight goals to reflect where you are right now. The same applies to MapMyRun — make the app as easy to use as possible by moving it to your home screen so you’re always ready to record the second you step out the door.
RUN WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Use this time of social distancing to recognize whether or not your running buddy is right for you. If there’s someone you run with who is unreliable or manages to make you feel bad about yourself, it’s time for a change. This can be a runner who simply has to sprint to every sign even when you’re out for an easy run, one who never shows up on time or one who’s constantly complaining about how tough the run is. If you don’t feel happier after running with a certain friend, they may not be the ideal running buddy — don’t feel obligated to stick to your same old routine once you realize it’s not serving you.
CURATE YOUR GEAR CLOSET
Of course, we can’t talk about minimalism without mentioning Marie Kondo, author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her advice is to get rid of things that don’t ‘spark joy,’ and this is a great metric for clearing out your gear. Those sneakers that never fit quite right, that T-shirt with holes in the armpits, the tights that fit fine but you just never wear … Let them go and make getting ready for runs easier.
MAKE TIME FOR GRATITUDE
Remember the reason to embrace minimalism isn’t to have less, it’s to make space for things you want more of in your life. Practicing gratitude is one of the things that often gets left out when we’re cramming days full of activities and ‘stuff.’ Middle-distance pro runner Rachel Schneider has been thinking about this and sums it up well: “I truly believe that so much of life is perspective, and when we stop and reflect, there are always things to be grateful for. Maybe one silver lining to focus on during this time is simply having more time to just be still and to reflect.”