So you think you know what running is, right? Side cramps, pain, agony, and goofy shorts—most people associate these things with what is popularly known as running. However, other than watching Forrest Gump, very few people really know anything about it.
Maybe you see someone run by your house every day. Maybe you occasionally watch a high school track meet. Whatever the case, it is impossible to observe what running is. You have to experience it. Running is for the runner, not for the observer.
So if you do decide to give running a try, or a second, third, or fourth try, where should you begin? Should you go and buy a new pair of running shoes? Should you immediately go out and start jogging down the road? No! Go take a walk. Just enjoy it. Relax. There will be plenty of time for running later, so just go out and get a feel for moving, breathing, and being alive.
Running is about pleasure, not pain. Running is about gluttony, not discipline. Running is about fun, not work. These are the real truths about running. Real runners run for pleasure.
But if these things are really true, why do so many people hate it? Well, they are going about it the wrong way. Whether that means having had a bad experience with being on a team or not ever really giving it a try, the problem is with the approach, not running itself.
The problem many people have with running is intensity. They start off too hard. “Yeah, I think I’m going to start running,” your friend tells you for the tenth time. After his goal of running the Boston Marathon fades away, he is sitting on the couch again eating potato chips.
Running does not have to be hard. Oh it can be. It can be as hard as you want, but it doesn’t have to be. Running can be exactly what you want. Think of it as an activity that you can mold into whatever you desire.
Do you like being outdoors? You can run almost anywhere that is outside: roads, trails, mountains, golf courses, and parking lots. Do you like being inside? There are many good places to run inside as well: fitness centers, shopping malls, gyms, and schools.
Do you like being around people? Road races (Don’t let the name scare you! You don’t have to run hard) are one of the most festive places you will ever experience. T-shirts, bagels, and prizes are handed out in abundance, and there is nothing better than the feeling of having run a race by the time your friends are just waking up.
Are you a loner? The solitary thump of your shoes on the pavement will give you all of the sense of being alone that you need. Indeed, many authors, artists, and businesspeople claim that their best ideas come to them while running.
The best way to actually start off is gradually. Take an easy jog around your block. No distance is too short to begin with. Take a long walk and jog the last minute of it. Starting off on the right foot means taking it easy and having a good time.
If you can ignore the popular misconceptions, you will discover running to be unlike anything you ever imagined. You will look better and feel better. In an age of automobiles and moving sidewalks, being a runner is a manifesto of sorts. You are taking charge of your life, your fitness, and your health.
Make running what you want it to be. Whether that is competitive sport, leisure activity, or simple exercise, you decide what it is. The road is calling, and your legs want to go. Just give it a chance…gradually.
by Carl Roberts
Carl ran Track & Cross Country through Jr. High, High School, College and now enjoys running in his free time. He has been ranked in the Top 10 in Indiana and has won many conference titles.
*It is recommended to speak to a physician regarding new exercise regiments.