Running is an exercise well-suited for the lazy. Unlike group classes or club sports teams, which require commitment and planning ahead to reserve (and often pay for) your spot, all you need in order to go for a jog is a body, a pair of running shoes, and a path ahead.
And yet, despite the low barrier-to-entry that is opening my front door and bounding off, I sometimes still need an incentive to get moving.
When the endorphin spike and promise of a better mood aren’t enough to motivate me, I’ve found if I combine the running with another task I also don’t much feel like doing, I’m less likely to talk myself out of either. By literally “running errands”, I feel like a productivity genius who’s punned my way into cheating time and killing two birds with one stone.
To effectively “run” errands, you’ll need to pick a task that a) can be accomplished within a manageable kilometre radius from your starting point, depending on how far you want to run, and b) isn’t physically cumbersome. You probably don’t want to go on a run to drop off clothes at the dry cleaners or, I don’t know, return a defective kitchen appliance to the shop (although, you could celebrate unburdening yourself by then running home, post-drop off).
I have gone running to return a couple of hardcovers to the library — maybe the equivalent of 1kg dumbbells, if that — but they still fit in my hands and didn’t impede my movement. I might have looked a bit odd to passersby, but if you’re out in public sweating and suffering for anyone to see, it’s a bit late to let shame inhibit you.
In general, though, you’ll want to avoid running with anything too bulky. If you need to bring money with you, stash your debit card or cash in your shoe. You could don a bum bag, if need be, but I wouldn’t recommend it; I don’t love the feeling of a bag flapping against my abdomen with each footfall. If you’re a person who enjoys running with a backpack, by all means, make use of it.
Barefoot running is like skinny-dipping. Something that's already pretty fun becomes exhilarating and memorable when you're more deeply connected to the environment and your body. You can't help feeling the nuances of the water temperature and noticing your skin when sans swimsuit, and running without shoes forces you to pay attention to the world around you - and listen to your feet.
One Saturday morning, I ran 1.6km to my favourite bagel shop, then back home clutching the whole wheat baked good inside a compact paper bag. When I finally consumed the carbs, I’d deluded myself into thinking I’d earned my breakfast. I don’t think anyone should have to justify eating a bagel, but I do believe that whatever it takes to make you feel better about yourself, go for it, and godspeed.
Other recent errands I’ve literally run: To pick up a small package at the post office; to the print shop to print and scan documents (the worst); to the vet to pick up a prescription for my dog; to the bank to deposit a check.
When I needed to pick up my race number for an upcoming half-marathon, I ran to get it, which seemed appropriate. When I realised I’d left my bike locked up outside of the train station, jogging one way to retrieve it and then cycling home almost made up for the inconvenience.
I have also gone running to my voting place, which temporarily inflated my self-worth over having literally exercised my civic duty, even if the results didn’t always turn out how I’d hoped by the end of the day. For as long as the run lasts and as long as it takes you to complete the task, at least, you’re in control of outcomes.