Two days ago there was an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, mocking runners for their narcissism, their stupid 13.1 and 26.2 stickers and race T-shirts, and their general smug self-satisfaction. This piece pissed me off, of course, but then I thought of the reasons I keep running. I looked back at my exercise/running log from 2009, and saw the first day I ran outside--October 16, a 22-minute outdoor session. What keeps me running four years later?
1) It works (for me):
Back in 2009, I was working out a lot indoors at our campus recreation center. I'd use the rowers, the bikes, and I got over my fear of the elliptical (something about being suspended mid-air initially bugged me, but now I enjoy the lack of pounding) and the treadmill. I noticed the piece of equipment that really fired up my weight loss was the treadmill. I'm not the hugest treadmill fan, but this intrigued me.
2) It's a "lazy" workout:
On October 16, 2009, I started running outside. It felt so much freer than the treadmill, and I felt a rush. Something told me that is was something I could do, do well, and continue to do when I felt too lazy to drag ass to the REC center. It's "lazy" in that I don't have to think much about it--I get my clothes on (more on clothes later), get my shoes on, select music if I'm using music, and head out the door. I figured out a quick one-mile automatic-pilot loop in my neighborhood that I still use to this day.
3) It helps me keep my blood pressure in check:
I think America's doctors have given up on us. They've told us again and again to eat a healthy diet and to exercise, but so many of us ignore that advice. When I was going to the doctor a lot for high blood pressure care, no doctor ever told me to exercise. They seemed stunned that I'd started a regimen without their advice, and that I was trying to wean myself off the huge pills they kept wanting to prescribe. I hated going to the pharmacy every month for more and more pills. Eventually, I lost sufficient weight (though weight loss was never my primary goal) that the docs took me off all meds. I was so glad of that because less money on pills means more money on....
I'll admit to buying more running/workout clothes these days than regular clothes. But I'm also cheap, so I'll hit up the sales racks at Target, Gordman's, Bealls Outlet, Ross Dress for Less (there's always a sign at Ross Stores that labels part of their sportswear section as "Active Bottoms," which still cracks me up), TJ Maxx and Marshalls. In running clothes, I can wear obnoxious colors that I don't wear in my day-to-day wardrobe. I can be silly--and dress for a race as a tiger or a bunny (both of which I've done).
I love music, just about any kind of music. But running has made me re-consider songs I thought were rubbish--lyrically, they may be, but some crass pop songs are great for running. I don't always use music when I run, and if I'm told not to use music in a race, I don't. But I've enjoyed re-connecting with my own past musical memories when I run to eighties tunes; I love hearing hyped-up house mixes; I've run to reggae, soca and salsa music; and I've discovered a whole lot of bands and musicians I never would have heard otherwise. For a sample of my favorite running music, check out the links I've posted on the side of this blog.
So, Wall Street Journal dude, keep your sour attitude about running and runners. I've got my reasons to run and no one's going to take them from me. Running makes me feel like a bad-ass, and that can only be good.