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?