Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why run anyway?



Why do you run? What are the real upsides? Sure you can increase your level of fitness and overall health, but it takes an awful long time and a whole lot of work to achieve that. On the other hand, running can kill you instantly; you can be hit by car, have a heart attack, etc..., and if running doesn't kill you, it can damn sure hurt you.  Excluding me, just scan the entries on the DM to see how many people are in various stages of injury. In fact, I'll take it one step further and ask you how many runs have you ever been on where you did not hurt at all when you were finished; soreness, niggles, tightness etc....? Be honest, it's there. Running is also expensive for most of us, especially the novice runner. While it is advertised that you don't need any equipment to run, this is not true for the vast majority. There's shoes, socks, shorts, shirts at a minimum (sure you can knock off socks and shoes if you are a true minimalist); GPS watch, heart rate monitor, foam roller and more if you really want to be prepared. Also, once you’ve been running for some time you have to race right? In fact, many articles for beginning runners suggest you sign up for a race at the same time you decide to start running so that you will have a goal to train for and thereby stay motivated. If you think running gear is expensive, races can be even more so depending on what your goal race is and where you live. Just check out Jeff's analysis over at Detroit Runner as to what it might cost him to run the Chicago Marathon. $1800 for a weekend and a race is staggering huh? So to sum it up, running can increase your life expectancy, but it takes a while, and while you are working on achieving this benefit, your cost is potential instant death, pain on a near daily basis, and bankruptcy (or at least poverty).

So why not just sit on the couch? It won't kill you (at least not instantly); it doesn't hurt at all (in fact it's quite comfortable); and best of all, it's free! The downside? To be honest, it will kill you....eventually. You'll have plenty of years to figure this out though and ward off your slow death from obesity and decay.  After all, you don't gain 100 lbs overnight, so it’ll take you at least several months of concerted effort to do this, and by that time you’ll probably be sufficiently motivated to do something about it. Wait. What? If you’re morbidly obese and want to live you have to do something about it? Well yeah, duh! Damnit! So now I'm 100 lbs overweight and have to run and workout to lose it all? Yup. So maybe this running thing isn't all that bad. 

Even given the potential risks and pain and cost (should you choose to spend the money), running is a good thing. Hell, running is a great thing. Even my worst day running is better than one day not running. I never thought that I would feel this way about running, but like most who find running later in life, it really is a life saver in many ways.  As I have struggled with this injury, what I realize more and more every day is that even though I am remaining positive and looking for different challenges, I have lost something by not running. I am lethargic, unfocused, and unmotivated and the one thing that I know would cure it is a good run. For now though, that nice long run is not to be. What I hope to gain from this experience is a greater appreciation for the ability to run; a greater appreciation for the machine that is my body that allows me to run; and an increased willingness to back off the intensity when my body asks me to, as I realize that it is not weak to rest or to cut a run short.

So what say you? The road or the couch? It's your choice...