Sunday, February 13, 2011

Running, why do people like it?

We’ve all seen those insane people running in the middle of winter.  How about when you are going into work at 7:00am and you see that same person, running the same path with a big smile on their face.  There is this guy I see running every morning in the summer time.  He waves to every car as they drive by.  Are those smiles on runner’s faces or grimaces of pain?  Runners can easily disguise pain as pleasure because in the extreme forms of pain and pleasure your teeth show and no one knows if you are smiling or cursing.  Why do people run?

WAIT, all you runners don’t stop reading here.  I’m actually a proponent of running although it may not sound like it from above.  Let’s be strait here, there are different levels of running.  Some people look like they are born to run (my son Avery for one), others look like every step they take is a struggle (me for instance).  Then there are those who are somewhere in between.  The one thing to keep in mind is exercise is so good for you, if you aren’t into running that’s OK.  What I’m saying here can be applied to any exercise.  The key to exercise is to find something you will have fun doing.  If you aren’t training for some kind of competition, don’t worry about keeping stats and watching improvements.  If you keep consistently exercising you will improve.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with running and until recently I didn’t know why. I’m not talking about running with a ball in front of you like soccer or basketball, or running after you hit a ball like baseball.  I’m talking about running in its purest form.  For all you literary students think of the ‘Man vs. Himself’ conflict in literature.  I’ve found this to be my biggest challenge in running, myself.  At least it has been until now.  I only started to enjoy running when I did it for leisure a few years ago.  I’ll back up for a moment though.

My first memories of running were when I played soccer.  It was fun, but of course there was a ball in front of me.  Then I kept playing soccer.  All of the sudden when I got to high school the coaches wanted us to be in great shape.  “On your off days you should run ten miles to keep in shape.” They would say.  Wanting to be in great shape, so I could play soccer more, I ran.  It wasn’t very fun though.  Fast forward a few years.  I’m looking for an exercise I can do during lunchtime at work.  I worked downtown Cleveland at the time.  A friend and work colleague of mine said, let’s run together.  “Sure, let’s do that” I said.  Well, he was way above me in stamina and running skill so he would always get ahead of me and I would try to keep up, killing myself in the process.  Who likes this running thing?  I quickly bagged it for some other form of exercise that worked for me.  I thought my strait running days were over with.

Then a few years ago my son Avery heard about this cross country team from a local school.  He thought he would give it a try.  He is a natural runner and took to it quickly.  I would go to his practices and watch him.  It looked like he was having fun.  He actually told us that he finds peace while running.  It’s very calming for him.  What better endorsement than from a family member.  I decided to try it again, just for fun this time.  My first few times were a struggle.  Then it started to get easier.  Then I started to look around the trails and noticed the nature we were running through.  I was really breathing in the fresh air.  To top it off I was spending time with my son and some of his friends.  We carry on conversations while running.  I’ve met some great people.   I got to know other kids and parents from this group.  The running team is coached by the most positive coaches I’ve seen, ever.  What an incredible environment for the kids.  OK I’m hooked.  I actually like running.   Now I’m in mid-winter and have other forms of exercise to keep me busy but I’m getting the itch to start up running again.  I can’t wait until spring.  Nature, fresh air, camaraderie, I get it now.  As long as I keep the perspective of doing it for fun and not setting goals that I can’t keep, I’ll be running for a while.  I understand that most runners are smiling and not grimacing.  Do what works for you.

Do you like to run?  If so, do you run by yourself or with others?  Competition, social or fun running?  If you don’t run what is your reasoning?  


  1. I used to run in 5K's and I actually ran a marathon as part of a team (my leg was 6 or 7 miles). Not sure I ever really 'loved' it, but I loved the sense of accomplishment when I finished a run or a race and I loved the fact that I was doing something good for myself. Running has gone by the wayside- last year I traded my treadmill for an elliptical. And I can say that I really do love my elliptical!!! Not sure I will ever run again, but never say never! Happy you are finally having a good experience with running- what a great way to bond with your son.

    Kim L.

  2. Kim,
    I'm glad that elliptical is working out for you. Your point about not ever loving running, but doing it anyway is great.

    Thanks again for the great comments!!

  3. Hi John--

    My son Frank loves to run as well--he has a natural pace and he does a lot of thinking while he's on a run. I love to "run" too, although if you ever saw me in action, you might not know that that's what I was doing LOL! But I do like to push myself and I always feel like I can do anything after I run. Speed is not my thing, but I like running on the trails and increasing my distance without increasing my time. Maybe I'll run past you sometime down in Bonnie Park!!


  4. I'm sure you'll be running by my in the park one day!! Good point about feeling like you can do anything after you run. It gives that great sense of accomplishment and encouragement.
    Thanks Doreen!!

  5. Love the idea of running! But, I'm one of those people that needs the ball to chase after. For me running is a means to a goal, literally a goal. Being an asthmatic growing up I think playing soccer & running helped me learn how to breathe & it definitely gave my lungs a workout.
    Now when I try to run without a distractor in front of me I just feel everything jiggle, hurt & plead for me to stop! Does that stop after a certain point? I love the idea of running because I do see the peace in it & what it can do for your body. I admire the endurance & discipline in all you runners. Love watching you & Avery run John.