Why Running & Why now?

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Source: New York Times

I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. – Jesse Owen

I’m currently sitting in the sunshine writing this and it strikes me how crazy it is that it took a stay-at-home order for many of us to finally get what has been staring us in the face all along; It really is the little things. Little things like sunshine, and sunsets, and birds chirping, and cherry blossoms, and spring time, and family time, and quiet time, and prayer time, and good health, friendships, date night, girl time, basic amenities, and yes even our jobs, are really blessings that all too often go unnoticed and underappreciated because of our too-busy-getting-ahead lives.

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Yet here we are, not of our own violation obviously, finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory – with time on our hands. And it’s not just time we have; some of us have families, and God help us, kids at home, and wait it gets worse, to navigate online schooling and even homeschool. Others may be be able to work from home, which can go either way and could be good or not-so-much, depending on the home situation. Even if you’re alone, without dependents or family drama, being alone could be the issue. Whichever way you figure it, there’s some type of stress involved – whether it’s emotional, financial, mental, and/or physical, we’re all feeling something that is, more than likely, not super positive these days. We need help! An outlet, an escape, a break – whatever you want to call it as long it’s a positive way to channel the negative energy that’s certain to arise from this new “normal.” Lucky for you, I know just the thing, and whilst it’s nothing new, it’s one of those things that many of us, myself included, have been taking for granted all along. 

Running, my friends, is the most underrated and one of the most underused form of exercise there is. While there are more people exercising today than ever before, folks are more apt to find a gym of which there a wide variety with dozens of specialties. The basic gym with regular equipment is almost a thing of the past with many incorporating various types of classes and programs to cater for a diverse membership in the hopes of staving off the competition. And believe me the competition presents a real threat with its modern ideas, tech savvy equipment, and tailored-to-you approach. With all of this vying for one’s attention, it is not difficult to see why the unmotivated, reluctant, or unaware would-be runner may be more apt to stick with the masses and do what is popular and perceivably “easier.”

To be clear, I think that most people of the aforementioned persuasion are either misinformed or misunderstand the nature of running and its benefits to them and thus unwittingly place themselves at the mercy of these corporate gym giants in the hopes of perhaps finding all the answers to their exercise, and sometimes health, needs in one place. Gyms, in my opinion, are a great resource that can provide additional support and even cross training to the runner and is not, nor should it be, a replacement for what is a natural, cheap, and relatively easy form of exercise. Given the situation we’re dealing with these days, I want to suggest that now may be a good time to think about exploring some ways to harness your exercise possibilities and potential outside of the gym. In my last post, I explored several exercises we can indulge in at home and included running in the list as I described exercises and workouts I utilize on a typical day. Here I want to talk a little about some of the science and benefits behind Running as a means to getting you to appreciate its simplicity and practicality.

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Making the case for running is pretty easy with the list of positives far outweighing its  critics who often point to the stress factor on the knees as a drawback to running. The argument can be made that while knee pain can quickly sideline a runner, It’s often a sign of overtraining or a need to improve one’s form or flexibility. (Business Insider)     On a very basic level, running is appealing to most runners because it’s relatively cheap, can be easily adapted to suit your ability, and can be done almost anywhere and at a time convenient to you. You can do it for fun, for competition, for fitness for companionship, and for weight loss. 

Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life. It even helps you live longer. (Harvard Health) In the Journal of American College of Cardiology researchers find that even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at all.       researchers find that even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at all.

Running can significantly improve physical and mental health by improving your mind and fight age-related cognitive decline.
• As a form of aerobic exercise, running can reduce stress, improve heart health, help alleviate symptoms of depression, help you sleep better, improve your mood and ability to focus.
• Running is a great calorie burner and is one of the main forms of reducing and maintaining a healthy weight coupled with a healthy diet.

Here are some recommendations for newbie runners under current conditions: 1. Get checked out by your doctor to get the go ahead before starting. You may be able to do a call in or video call with your doctor to get suggestions and recommendations. If not, see #4 and I encourage you to read some literature on starting out and listen to your body for signs on how to proceed. 2. Visit a running store and get fitted for a good pair of running shoes. There is an option to call and discuss with shoe specialist at some stores like Jack Rabbit/ The Running Company during this time. 3. Consider joining a run club for accountability and support when the current conditions improve. 4. Start slowly, consider jogging the first few times and slowly increase pace and distance. 5. Always run in areas where you have a clear view of others and are within range to be safe. 6. Keep social distancing guidelines by running at non-peak times like mid mornings and afternoons. 7. Warm up before your run to avoid injury. See my last post for warm up exercises and cool down when you’re done. 8. Lastly, don’t forget to hydrate. Run with fluid if you plan on going out for a bit or hydrate before and after a short run.

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Source: Pinterest

Sources: Harvard Health Publishing/ Harvard Medical School, Business Insider, Runner’s World, Better Health Channel

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