A few weeks back I wrote about my struggle to run. Running has just not been my favorite thing to do but there are so many reasons to run that I just had to give it another shot. Why run?
1- It’s Easy. Well, by easy I mean that you don’t need to learn any rules or do something completely different. We have all run at one point in our lives, some of us just quit doing it.
2- It’s Cheap. The equipment needed for running can be pretty inexpensive compared to other sports. A good pair of running shoes does not have cost $100+, in fact, many of the top rated shoes are much less than that. I would suggest investing in some good moisture wicking socks with padding in the toe and heel. Also- get a decent sports bra, one that holds you in place. Any old t-shirt and shorts will do, although shorts with a built-in compression short or panty are super comfortable. I also have a running skort that I love but still feel awkward when I wear it. You don’t need to belong to a gym to run, there is no charge to run outside! (I know, for those of us in the snow belt this can get challenging in the winter).
3-It’s Not Easy- Wait…what? Why would I want to do something that’s not easy? Didn’t I just say that it was easy? You’re doing this for a variety of reasons- to lose weight, heart health, cardio health, etc. Well, running torches more calories that pretty much anything else because it ain’t easy! Running also gives your ticker a world-class workout. When your legs hit their stride they squeeze blood toward your heart, which in turn forces it to pump the blood right back. The faster you run, the harder your heart works and the stronger it gets. And that ain’t easy!
4- It’s GOOD for your knees! Contrary to popular belief, running doesn’t wreck your joints. Osteoarthritis (the most common type of arthritis), occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage starts to break down. The biggest osteoarthritis risk factor besides age? Body weight. Runners are much more likely to be at a normal weight than members of the sedentary population, significantly decreasing their risk of osteoarthritis.
Running also bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints. Hitting the trail also gives your bones a boost, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Though it’s important to treat all running injuries and to replace your shoes often, in the end, running will build your joints up, not tear them down.
5- You’ll stress less. Running is a great way to get away from it all. DON’T bring your phone! If you feel more secure with it in case of emergency, leave it turned off. Do you really think the world will end if no one can reach you for 30 minutes? The world will be fine and you will be MUCH better. Let your mind wander, play some tunes or just listen to your breathing and the birds.
6- You are only competing against yourself. I’m not a very competitive person so beating someone else just isn’t that big of a deal. However, running faster or longer or lifting more weight or doing more reps than I did before is very motivating. I only have to defeat myself!
6- Running can prevent disease. Most experts agree that regular exercise reduces the risk of many kinds of cancer, including some of the scariest: colon, breast, endometrial, and lung. Runners, joggers, and walkers also have a leg up against heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, and running has been shown to lower blood pressure, raise good cholesterol, and boost immunity to colds and other viruses.
7- You’ll probably live longer- and probably live better! In perhaps the most surprising study done on the health benefits of running, a team at the Stanford University School of Medicine studied 538 runners and 423 healthy non-runners from 1984 until 2005. All of the subjects were over 50 and were asked to take a disability questionnaire each year measuring simple tasks like cutting meat, shampooing hair, and opening a milk carton.
Every year, the disability levels were significantly lower in the group of runners than in the non-runners, and they became more different as both groups aged.
Even more interesting (though admittedly morbid)? At the end of the study, 85% of the runners were still alive, while only 66% of the non-runners were.
Ok, now that we know why we should run- how to we do it? For me, it was signing up for a 5K so I had a goal. I used to run a minute or two (if even that long) and stop because I just didn’t feel like running. After I signed up for an official run, I knew there was no turning back. There are loads of training articles on the internet- just search for 5k training to get started. I like running to a beat so I went to jog.fm to check the minutes per mile on my favorite songs and set up a playlist.
I ran my first timed 5K this past weekend, my goal was to finish in 30 minutes but my music kept me going and I finished in 27. But- I was sure happy to see that finish line. 10k’s will have to wait!