Do you run? I have been thinking about running a lot lately.
I do run and have run for many years, but before I started running I thought it was a ridiculous waste of energy. My previous running experience was a form of high school torture that I was unwilling to repeat as an adult until I was in University and it was easy, free and a quick way to get some exercise. I can clearly remember the first time I ran, on purpose, for exercise. It wasn’t pretty or pleasant, but I survived to do it again.
I then started running with a group of new friends. They were runners. I was too stubborn to quit. I can also remember the first time I actually enjoyed running. Previous to this magical experience I liked the way I felt after a run, I liked how easy it was (and I use this term only to mean, available anytime, anywhere, there was nothing easy about it). I remember exactly where I was the first time I liked the running. It was on the trails in Stanley Park, just before Lumberman’s Arch. It was early morning, quiet, cool when I was suddenly struck by a random and unprecedented thought. “Hey, I like this. This feels like running.”
I had been running for 10 years before this happened. Did I mention that I am stubborn?
But, back to you. If you run, why do you do it? To get outside? To get some exercise? To stay lean? Do you like it? Even a little bit?
Are you one of those runners that always wants to improve? Thinking about your heart rate, stride, breathing? Or do you simply trot out the door and slog around your regular route until your penance is complete and you return home? Maybe you just can’t wait to get out the door and regardless of pace or elegance and you enjoy every minute of your run?
For the record, I have done all the above more than once and will do them again soon. Not every run is a thing of wonder, although most of them are because my views are simply too spectacular to not be in awe every time you go outside regardless of why. When the tourists in town are taking scenic shots in the grocery store parking lot you know you live in a spectacular scene. To not appreciate it would be self-absorbed or worse.
I sometimes run with a heart rate monitor or Strava. Rarely, but I do. Sometimes I go because I have to do something. Sometimes I drag my dog with me. He isn’t a runner and is also stubborn. We are quite a combination. The man says, he isn’t betting on the dog to win this battle of wills.
I did a trail race on the weekend. I had hours to think about running, climbing and practically crawling up hills and over cliffs. 20+km, 1400+m elevation, ridge running, navigating cliffs and other hazards all while thinking about where my next step would land, or the consequences would be painful.
There were all types of people running. Some were amazing. Like mountain goats leaping across boulders and some were carefully navigating their route. The trail was overgrown and narrow, once you were behind someone you could be there for a while unless they graciously stopped and moved aside. The one thing about trail runs that isn’t common in road races is how thoughtful other runners are to each other. You often hear people ask, “Everything okay?” “Let me know if you need to pass?” “Wow, isn’t this amazing!” “Do you have enough to eat?” It is more of “we are all in this together” kind of attitude out on a trail run that you don’t get when you can easily quit and walk away without any consequences.
Whether you run alone, in a group, outside, on trails, on the road, on a treadmill it doesn’t really matter when it comes to how you run. If you want to stay fitter, faster and injury free, get to the gym and do some strength training, at least twice a week and not some random exercises that change all the time, but an actual strength workout. If you want to run for years, happily and without pain, twice a week in the gym for 30-40 minutes will make all the difference.
If you think that being a better runner means changing your stride new studies suggest it is a wasted effort. Don’t bother. Stride length is individual and changing it won’t help you enjoy running more or get faster or prevent injury. You can improve your technique for better results, but leave your stride length alone.
Which brings me back to why do you run?
For the love of it? For the benefits? For the challenge? If you consider yourself a runner, let me know. Why do run? Do you like it? Do you try to change your stride, or work to improve your technique?
What is your running story? After spending a few hours running with total strangers I want to know – what makes you run?
Change your mind, change your health,
PS Here is my dog, not running.
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