It’s inevitable – place a group of runners who have never met each other, and the conversation naturally drifts to how great running is and how much it’s changed their lives.
Non-runners think runners are crazy. The sport itself is not crazy- it’s just shuffling your feet at a pace brisker than walking. I’ve seen sports that look crazier than running, like curling. I personally don’t think runners themselves are crazy, but I think it’s our die-hard devotion to the sport that give us our crazy reputation. Daily schedules start shifting to allow time for a run. After a couple of days of not running, we’ll feel like implosion is imminent if we don’t get our legs moving faster than a stroll. The more distance we conquer, the more we crave, until we find ourselves signing up for a guaranteed body-battering 26.2 miler race. You guys, I woke up at 5:30 to meet with my running group this morning. ME. The person who, in her natural state, would go to bed at 3 am and wake up at 10 am if given the chance.
I don’t go around preaching the virtues of running, but if you ask me if you should start running, my answer would be an unequivocal YES. Here’s why:
1. You can run anywhere. You don’t have to go to the gym or need a membership to run. I personally prefer scenery when I run, because living in this beautiful city has spoiled me like that, so I try to do the majority of my running at a park. But you can go right outside your house and start hitting the pavement if you wanted to. That’s why I don’t understand when people say they don’t have “time” to run. If you have time to get on Facebook for twenty minutes, you have time to run.
2. You don’t need any training. Running is free. Unless you are really interested in bringing your running to the next level, you don’t have to get any special training to do it.
3. You don’t have to be good at it to do it. “But my mile time is slow.” “I can’t run a mile.” “I feel stupid doing it.” These are all excuses I’ve heard from people. Guess what? No one cares. Really. Just getting yourself out of your house already puts you far ahead of a lot of people. No one starts off running at a great pace. No one starts off running six miles right away. We’ve all been there. It’s okay. No one is judging you except for yourself, because every single runner out there is working towards a goal. Even “good” runners are continually working to improve. No one ever is deemed a perfect runner.
4. The physical benefits are incredible. I have not found a workout yet that makes me feel as in shape as running. Your metabolism increases. You feel trimmer. Parts that used to be jiggly start toning. The endurance also comes in handy for times like when your unleashed puppy decides to make a run for it and you have to chase him half a mile down a beach to catch him (which actually happened).
5. It makes you happier. I have no problem telling people I’d be crazy without running. It’s my therapy. I started running when I was a little girl with my dad, and the lifestyle of running is one of the best gifts he could have given me. I can always trace really unhappy periods of my life to when I stopped running for whatever reason. If you’re depression or anxiety prone, go out for a run and see what happens. I’m speaking from experience here – you will go into a run with whatever worries tensing your body and spirit. The problem remains on your mind for maybe ten minutes tops, until you start focusing on the most important thing – breathing. After your run, you feel better. Even if the problem hasn’t gone away completely, you’ll find it seems less severe than it was before your started your run.
6. The camaraderie in the running community is incredible. With the exception of maybe a run or two a week, I try to do the majority of my running in a group. I tend to slack if I run by myself, but running with others is really motivating and encouraging (and if you’re naturally competitive like me, it helps you push yourself.) Plus, tying into #5, have you ever met an unhappy and cynical runner? Runners are a happy and positive bunch, and being around that atmosphere continually boosts your spirit. If you want to see a good example of this support, watch a race sometime. All these people cheering you on that you’ve never met before? It’s an amazing feeling!
There have been times in my life where I’ve taken breaks from running, only to realize that I miss it too much to stop completely. Running is more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. And if you decide to try it, it will change your life.