Although this may seem paradoxical, keeping perspective and balancing running with the rest of life are good for a runner’s enjoyment of running and for running performance. Such perspective and balanceas exhibited in her decision to stay put in Maine, for examplewere keys to Joan Samuelson’s long-term success. My all-time favorite quote about the enjoyment-performance connection in running comes from Ian Thompson, a great British marathon runner of the 1970s, who said, When I’m running well I’m happy, and when I’m happy I run well.
Here the enjoymentimprovement formula encompasses all of life, and correctly so. Runners not only train and race better when they enjoy their training, and enjoy their training more when they perform well, but they are also better partners in their relationships and more effective workers when their running is going well, and they run poorly when they are not getting along with their partners or their jobs are not going well. Proof and Performance The scientific research on exercise enjoyment teaches us what we already know from real-world experience, which is that enjoyment and performance go hand in hand.
One finding of the research is that the more a person enjoys exercise, the more likely she is to continue exercising. In one study, Beth Lewis, an exercise and sports psychologist at the University of Minnesota, had a group of sedentary adults complete a moderate-intensity workout and then a questionnaire designed to determine its effect on their mood. The participants were then encouraged to maintain a regular exercise program. Lewis found that those who most enjoyed their first workout were significantly more likely to still be exercising six months and then one year later.
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