In my younger days, I hated running. If we had to go for a run at practice, I got that heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t want to go for a long distance run. I didn’t want to do sprints. The only reason I liked to run is when it was attached to doing something fun, like playing ball or catching the ice cream truck. I definitely did not understand people who would voluntarily go out and run for no reason at all. Like they had somewhere they needed to get quickly. They never seem to get there, though. They just end up coming back to the same place they started. Of course I realize now that at that age, I had the metabolism of a humming bird. So running to keep my weight down seemed as silly as paying money for insurance or starting a report earlier than the night before it was due.
Since I now have a sloth-paced metabolism, and pounds will not fall off my body simply by breathing, I have come to appreciate running. Outside of the benefits to reducing my weight, there are many other positives. Here’s my short list.
1) It keeps me in good shape
I’m getting older. Can’t deny it. Everyone on Facebook knows my age. With age come the aches and pains. Running helps me to get rid of those. It helps to keep the spare tire in check. I’ve got one, but now, instead of it being 18-wheeler size, it is more of a donut tire. Hopefully, someday, it will become more training wheel-sized.
2) It gets my heart pumping
Very little else that I do in a normal day does this for me. As a web developer, I sit in front of the computer all day. I get very little exercise on the job, unless you count getting up to go to meetings as exercise. Since my daily grind does not include much physical exertion (the dang laptop seems pretty heavy enough, though), my body can really use the focused exercise of a good run. Just for good measure, I occasionally will walk up the six flights of stairs to my desk. I know that adds three, maybe four seconds to my life each time. Add all that up and I should have enough extra time at the end of my life to watch an episode of The Biggest Loser.
3) It focuses my mind so I can think more clearly
A benefit that I enjoy from every run is that it clears my mind of clutter. Like a large cup of coffee, without the jitters afterward. I have some of my best ideas during a run. As my body deals with some of the post-run aches, though, it makes my mind quickly forget the Zen-like clarity it achieved during the run:
Mind: Wasn’t that a great run, Body?
Body: Um, yeah. Did you remember to feed the dogs?
Mind: What? Oh, yes we took care of that. Let’s go for a run every day. I feel so invigorated.
Body: Yeah, sounds peachy. Did you remember to pay the electric bill?
Mind: Bill? Oh, yes, that’s on the list for today. How about we go farther on the run tomorrow?
Body: Farther. Good plan. The front yard needs mowing.
Mind: Yard? I just mowed...
Body: Did you finish the laundry?
Mind: Laundry? Yes, folded it yesterday...what were we talking about?
Body: Getting the taxes done.
4) It keeps my pride intact
This is probably the best result of running to keep in shape. I feel better about my body. I know I’m staying healthy. And, most importantly, I can still beat my kids in a race. Eventually, even running a marathon every day will not help me with this. But I plan to hold it over them as long as possible.
Even with my newly found love of running, I still find it hard to get myself to start. There are so many excuses not to go run: too much work; too tired; things need to be done around the house; I can’t find my running shoes; I’m sitting down. Moving past the excuses and taking the first steps is truly the toughest part. Once I’m moving, my mind can usually trick my body into continuing until I’m finished. The way I learned to keep myself moving is “microgoals”. Breaking up the run into small, easily managed goals. These come into play more the farther I run. As my body starts to tire and wants to stop, my mind tells it to just get to the next street. Then, when I reach that street, and my body wants to stop there, my mind tells it to get to the next light pole. This trickery continues on until I begin to measure the goals in increments of sidewalk squares and blades of grass. Then, my body finally wises up, realizes what my mind has been doing and stops listening altogether.
Even though my body is not always in agreement, I can now clearly see the benefits of running. Every part of me can gain something from running regularly. My heart will be in better shape. My mind will be much more focused. My gut will be much less tire-like. Getting out and going for a run is such a positive experience. Especially when I see those Nike commercial, Adonis looking runners. And trip them mid-stride. My mind and body both agree, that’s the best part.