Learn While You Run

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One of the most defining characteristics of runners I have noticed is that they are often incredibly motivated.  They are people who aren’t satisfied with just being average, but are instead seeking to better themselves and their lives by taking an active interest in their own health and wellness.  This drive doesn’t just usually apply to physical goals, however, and it is no coincidence that many dedicated runners also tend to be very well-educated.  For those of you who are interested in adding some bulk to your brain as well as your body, then consider using your workout as an opportunity for learning.  The mental down time you experience while exercising can easily be appropriated, and this is one example of multitasking that won’t harm your focus.  So, here are some ideas of how you can further your education at the same time as your fitness level, with no heavy textbooks required.

Audiobooks

It is estimated that at least 25% of Americans didn’t read a book last year, which is a shame, because reading is one of the best forms of self-improvement out there.  Reading has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve memory, and raise your verbal intelligence, and though the medium of audiobooks is slightly different from holding a physical copy in your hands, the words are still the same.  Enjoying a book during your run is a way to maintain awareness, keeping your mind active rather than in a passive state.  Many runners choose to listen to music, but if you’ve ever wished to be better read, then making the switch to audiobooks can bring a new enrichment to your runs that can benefit other aspects of your life, as well.

There are many options to find free and cheap audiobooks on the internet.  Many libraries offer free subscriptions to their patrons for the temporary digital download of hundreds of titles, so that is a great place to begin.  The volunteer-run Librivox also offers downloads with no charge, offering a large database of books in the public domain.  Amazon and Audible.com have subscription packages available, allowing unlimited access for a fixed fee.  With so many genres, you can surely find something you love, or delve into topics you haven’t studied before.  Reading is an activity that can easily become a casualty of our busy lifestyles, but by incorporating it into your daily routine, you can appreciate a good book again without having to make extra time during the day.

University Lectures

For some people, a structured course may be an easier way to learn new things than from books alone.  This is how we all began our education, by listening to lectures in school and at university, receiving content in a clear and comprehensive program.  Each lecture builds upon the last, and presents information on a topic that contributes to the main idea of the series.  In addition to the knowledge they offer, courses like these can help you to better focus on abstract concepts, and to improve your listening and comprehension skills.

Thanks to the internet, you can access hundreds of high-quality lectures from universities around the world for free on a wide variety of subjects.  You can find them on YouTube, on your podcast app, or as part of something called OpenCourseWare, an international project designed to make education open to the public.  Don’t be daunted by the thought of becoming a student again, because with the controls at your fingertips, you can take your time with it and go at your own pace.

Language Learning

Arguably the best option, learning a new language is perfect for those on the go.  Becoming bilingual (or multilingual) is a goal that we often set for ourselves, but it isn’t really attainable unless you are willing to consistently dedicate time to study.  Repetition is key to foreign language mastery, not unlike the regimen required to maintain good physical fitness, so pairing the two together during workouts is an excellent plan to make strides in both areas.  Many programs offer an audio-based learning system, which immerses students in the natural sounds of the language right from the start.  Just make sure that the one you choose is engaging enough to hold your interest, because you are much more likely to stick with lessons that are fun and challenging.

Podcasts

Another great resource for learning is listening to podcasts.  They are easily downloaded onto mobile devices and are offered in almost limitless supply in every kind of genre available.  For those who don’t enjoy the formality and scope of lectures, podcasts are a good alternative that still provide valuable educational content.  They are usually delivered conversationally, and are frequently presented not by professors, but by ordinary people who are interested in contributing to an online community.  Since they started gaining popularity back in the 2000s, podcasts are one of the fastest-growing information sources in use today, and they have become a major distributor of political, cultural, and economic news.  They also come in all sizes, lasting from just a few minutes to several hours, so you can find one that suits the length of your workout perfectly.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.  It is important to remember that, since we are all different, we all learn in different ways, so make the effort to find a program that works for you, and that pushes you to try harder.  Your motivation is part of what makes you special and gives you the ability to succeed in every aspect of your life, and just like running, education is one of the best methods to achieve that success.

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