First let me say — running is not for everyone — although I think anyone who is capable of putting one foot in front of the other should at least try it. I started running in 1995, and for the most part, haven’t stopped since. Although was fairly athletic and played team sports up until I graduated from high school, I didn’t have a physical outlet to keep active and healthy during college and early working years. As I began putting on pounds, I knew I had to do something, and decided one day to go for a run. Initially, I ran to get into shape and improve my health, but it has become so much more and I can’t imagine not having running in my life.
By no means am I considered a fast runner, but I do work hard to try to be the best runner I can be. I’ve run 11 marathons and one of my goals is to someday qualify for the Boston Marathon — although I continue to come up short time and time again. However, this elusive goal has kept me motivated to continue to push myself to the limits and not give up because one of these days I know everything will fall into place and I’ll run a marathon within the qualifying time.
As I mentioned earlier, running is not for everyone, but since the sport has given me so much, it is hard for me to sometimes not try to encourage (i.e., push) people into it. I know everyone is different and if they don’t enjoy running, that’s quite okay – but here is my top 10 reasons why I run:
1. Fitness – This is obvious, running is probably one of the most efficient and fastest ways to get in shape. You burn calories quickly (resulting in weight loss and leaner body mass), get the heart pumping strong (lower resting pulse and blood pressure) and build stronger bones and legs.
2. Stress Management – 10 minutes into a run you can physically feel the stress in your body depart. Better yet, this feeling lasts for a few hours after your run.
3. Meditation – When running (if not running too fast), my mind goes into a meditative state. I think it is different depending on the individual, but some of my best ideas or creative solutions to problems seem to pop into my head while in this free-flowing state of mind.
4. Feeling Alive – I’ll admit, it is hard getting out the door for a run most days, but 99.9% of the time I never regret it. Some days are hard, other days are easy, but either way, you know you are alive when running — and no matter what, I always feel great after I finish.
5. Inexpensive – You get the most bang for your buck when you take up running. Most likely you already have what you need to get started, a pair of running shoes, shorts, and t-shirt. As you get more into the sport, you’ll probably spend a little more upgrading your shoes and clothing, but it is still cheaper than almost any other sport I know of.
6. You Can Do it Anywhere – To run, you don’t need any fancy gym or equipment. You can do it anywhere, just step out your front door and go. How easy is that? I often travel around the world and always manage to find places to run…better yet, it is a great way to see a new town or city.
7. You Can Do it Alone or With a Friend – Running with someone is great way to enjoy someone’s company and stay motivated. I used to have a good running buddy when I lived in Texas and we always ran together and had a great time. But since I moved to Japan, I’ve pretty much run alone, which I also like doing. Either way, running complements whatever preference you have.
8. Challenge and Competition – There are tons of races in every small town and city. Running provides an opportunity to get the competitive juices flowing (if that’s your thing), whether it is competing against others or trying to beat a personal record (PR).
9. Marathons – These are really special events and very inspiring. Not only is exhilarating every time I run one, it is also very moving to see others (whether the elites or back of the packers) overcome personal challenges and cross the finish line.
10. Great Way to Start the Day – I usually run first thing in the morning and it feels magical to finish during the sunrise. Running kick starts my day — giving me that daily endorphin fix which carries me to the office in a zen state. I’d hate to see what kind of person I would be in our stress filled office if I didn’t have my morning running fix.