I remember that day in the 7th grade when I found out that part of the PE curriculum was a mandatory one mile run at the beginning and the end of the year. I wanted to cry, wondering who in their right mind could (or would want to) run that far.
As a 12 year old, it seemed like cruel and inhumane treatment, and we couldn’t make sense of how they had the right to torture us like that. I vividly recall the pit of anxiety slowly growing in my stomach in the week leading up to the one-mile run. Everyone started out in a sprint, and soon after my legs started to get weak and my lungs were burning. I hated it!
In the 9th grade I went out for the track team with hopes of being a sprinter, but much to my dismay at the time, I was assigned to be part of the long distance team. I told myself I would give it a week at practice, and when I finally fell over from passing out or hurting myself (because I was convinced that’s what would happen), I wouldn’t have the shame of going to tell the coach I quit. I didn’t keel over that first week, or second week, or even the third…
And slowly but surely, I fell in love with running. Over 2 decades later, I’m still in love.
It is way of life for me.
I know lots of people who say running isn’t for them. I’ve also watched people who said that turn it into a lifelong passion. Below are a few reasons why you should consider giving running a second chance.
Practical and Efficient
Running is a one stop shop, working legs, arms (yes, I said arms), core, heart and lungs simultaneously. Cardio and toning in one. It’s the most efficient way for me to get a total body workout in a half hour or less.
Running is portable. It doesn’t require a you to head to the gym or rush to make a class. You can run any place, any time. Buy a good pair of running shoes and one or two good pieces of workout gear, and forget spending lots of money on monthly gym memberships. If you are a new mom or dad, investing in a quality jogging stroller and take your kiddo with you.
Last year I got an Apple Watch which I wear on every run now. It tracks my milage, pace, heart rate, elevation, you name it. No watch? Just download Nike or other running app on your smart phone.
It can be a Solo or Social sport
When I was younger I used to love running in bigger groups, catching up with friends and socializing. There are tons of running groups out there for all levels and types of runners (pop by your local running shoe store to find running groups, or you can find the online). These days, I am either running with my buddy Max, or I running solo enjoying the peace and quiet.
First it’s running a mile, running for 5 minutes, then it might be the corporate 5K, a 1/2 marathon, or that crazy marathon that your friend “made” you sign up for. Picking a race, a distance, or a time as a goal and working toward that goal is great way to build a sense of accomplishment outside of school, work, relationships, etc. Start small and work your way up! Setting and achieving goals, even small ones, is a great way to boost your self confidence.
Adaptable for a changing lifestyle over time
When I was single I could afford to run for a couple hours a day, so it was easier to train for marathons when I could log more than 100 miles in a month. Now that I’m a mom, I don’t have the luxury of a lot of spare time so I do more frequent shorter runs when I can during the week, and then I try to amp it up a few miles on the weekends. Whether you want to do it a little or a lot, there’s a way to fit running into your life.
Look and feel better
Walking or running just a little bit every day can add a boost to your metabolism, which is even more important as you start to age. While I was pregnant and during the first 6 weeks after having my c-section, I couldn’t run, so I walked. Just walking or running 2 miles every other day can have a great impact on overall health. A consistent running routine helps me maintain a healthy weight, helped me shed all 50 pounds of my baby weight in just a few months. (On an unhealthy note, it’s also a good way to help sweat out a hangover after afew too many glasses of wine.)
Easy to work out on vacation
Running is great way to stay honest with your workout goals while traveling. Running around a new destination lets you explore some areas in more detail than you would just driving by, and you will likely find places you want to revisit later. When I studied abroad (back in the archaic days before smart phones), each time I visited a new city I would grab a map and ask someone who was local where I should run. These days I just grab my smartphone and wander. The beautiful sights along the crazy winding roads around Lake Como make it my all time favorite running destination, but I’ll gladly take a beach any day of the week too!
Will help you find your Zen
When I am running my brain totally detoxes. All the clutter of the day is categorized, my inner peace reset, and life is put into perspective once again. Exercising regularly is shown to help reduce stress levels, improve mental health, and help make runners happier people (your body releases a ton of endorphins, so there is a physiological reason this happens). Ditch the treadmill, and get outside. Breathe the fresh air, feel the wind, hear the birds and feel the sunshine or the rain. It will do you good.
It can give you a Longer Life
Running keeps the heart and lungs strong. I have read that regular runners can lower their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by nearly 45 percent. If running isn’t for you, walking has most of the same benefits. Several years ago my father had triple bypass surgery, and his doctor’s biggest piece of after care advice was for him to get up and move. He walked 2 miles a day now, rain or shine, for the last 8 years. You don’t have to be an ultra marathoner to reap the benefits of walking and running, a moderate schedule will have lots of the same benefits.