Jul | 29

Run Happier with Smile Training

The following post was written for Brooks by Salty Running. Check out their site for more thoughts on the run.

Darn it. I was late leaving the house again, but I had to get my tempo in. I hurriedly laced up my Brooks Ravennas and then started my watch, but I was nowhere near the zone; monkey mind would be an understatement.

I have to get back to finish that assignment. 

I think I forgot to put the wet laundry in the dryer.

I can’t believe the nerve of some people.

Just as I was swirling further down the deep hole of negative thoughts and approaching the end of the first mile of my warm-up, I was jarred back into reality:

“It’s a beautiful day! Smile!” said a stranger as I hurried past.

If said in a lecherous way, it would have made matters worse, but this dude, in his borderline obnoxiously optimistic tone, had a point.

Running makes us our best selves, as any hardcore runner will tell you. Running makes us feel strong, alive, amaaaaaaaazing! Through running, we can accomplish so much more than we ever thought possible. But how often do you see yourself smiling in candid race photos? Do you look like someone who’s enjoying herself, let alone someone who’s maximizing her potential? Do you look happy?

We hate to break it to you, but what you and I likely see staring off into the distance in our running photos is a steely look of concentration. Some have even coined it RBF (in this case, substitute “running” for “resting”). Sure, RBF often accompanies the look of someone who’s focused and determined; we are serious about our running, after all. But if we love running so much, why do we often look angry while we’re doing it? Why do we so rarely seem to be smiling?

As we train our aerobic threshold, our fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers and our turnover, what would happen if we trained our smile too? Sure, smiling won’t change how late we are to start our tempos or the annoying things that happen to us during the day, but maybe, just maybe, training ourselves to smile more can help us run happier. I decided to find out.

I started my quest on an easy trail run and, as I often do, quickly became lost in thought about day-to-day obligations and annoyances. I’m sure the look on my face matched the tone in my brain. Quit that! I scolded myself, Smile, woman! So I did. Or rather, I tried to.

Have you ever forced a smile … alone in the woods? Yeah. It was like that.

I felt dumb, but I committed to my experiment. And then I caught myself LOL’ing for real as I ran through the woods alone. I was genuinely laughing and smiling now because I was running alone in the woods with a fake smile. And then I was smiling because the sunlight shining through the trees was gorgeous and because the chipmunk scampering across the trail was cute and because I was strong, alive, and being my best self. I forgot about my miles-long to-do list, that thing my mom said, and how many more miles I still needed to run before I could be done and move on to the next thing in my busy day.

Instead of stewing over the past and worrying over the future, smiling made me feel in the moment, something I so rarely feel. I wasn’t worried about the next big race. I wasn’t worried about mistakes I’ve made in past training. I was enjoying this run, in this place, right now.

About Salty Running

Salty Running believes you’re more than just a runner, you’re an individual. You have a lot going on in your life, but where running is concerned, you have big dreams and you’re not afraid to give them your best shot. Finishing races is great, but you want to finish faster and faster yet. At Salty Running, come as you are, not who you’re supposed to be. Let’s change the conversation about running.

About Guest Blogger
The Brooks Blog regularly features stories from our athletes, running partners and friends who exemplify Run Happy.