I've written about running before, and I'm going to do it again because lately, a bunch of people have asked me why I do it or told me they could never enjoy it or that they don't understand how I could find running fun.
The main reason I run is that it is an incredibly efficient form of exercise. I don't have to belong to a gym to run and the only specialized equipment I need is something comfortable to wear and a decent pair of running shoes (those who run barefoot forgo even that bit of gear). I can run anywhere: in my neighborhood, at work during lunch, while I'm on vacation. In under 45 minutes--5 minutes to change into running clothes, 30 minutes to run, and a 10 minute shower/change--I can get a really good whole-body workout.
I'm not saying that finding 45 minutes is easy. It took the combination of the twins being older and less demanding, starting a job with a gym (facilitates lunchtime running), and having live-in child care to make it relatively simple to find four times a week or so to get out and take a run. These days, I go out two days a week at 6 a.m. and then try to run two more days per week during my lunch break. If things work out, I do a longer run on the weekend, too, but that takes more dedicated planning.
Here's a confession: I don't actually love to run. I know that it's important for me to take care of my body by exercising, and it's the simplest thing to do. I've only gotten what I would quantify as a runner's high all of once or twice in my entire running career, so I'm not doing it for that. Often, I have to give myself a serious pep talk to get out the door, and at least half the time I spend much of the run wondering what on earth I'm doing to myself.
Here's what I do love:
- being outside (I run exclusively outdoors, including in rain and even snow)
- being with friends (running with a friend, which I do on both of my morning runs and one of my lunchtime runs, never feels like drudgery)
- taking care of myself mentally and physically, and how I feel mentally and physically stronger when I'm running regularly
- participating in road races (I love that feeling of camaraderie at a race)
- overcoming the mental challenge of getting myself motivated and out the door, then putting one foot in front of the other
I think there's a mythology about runners, that we all really really love to run! I'm sure I give people that impression; I'm always trying to recruit people to run with me, and given that I have a limited amount of free time, I spend an awful lot of it jogging around and thinking about jogging around. I'll bet that it's not uncommon for nonrunners to hear the evengalistic pep talking of the runners, give running few tries, find it boring at best or dreadful and worst, and then write it off. Memo to the nonrunners: it's not the running itself that's great. It's all the stuff that comes with and from the running that makes it worthwhile.
While I often don't love it while I'm doing it, running has definitely become an important part of keeping my stress level and patience in check. When I don't run, I don't feel good anymore. I feel lethargic, I don't sleep well, I lose my temper. I'm an optimist by nature, but I'm happier in a fundamental way when I exercise regularly.
Running is what works for me, and I egotcentrically feel like it would work well for everyone else. Ha! Probably not really, but if you feel like trying it out, plenty of bloggers give fantastic advice to new runners. DoctorMama is one of my favorites. In the end, it boils down to this: start slow (distance and pace) and keep doing it. One day, it will all make sense. I know a bunch of people who have done the Couch-to-5K program and found it really successful.
/end PSA about the benefits of running/