Why I’m inspired to run and why you should be inspired too.
There’s a man I see every morning on my way to work. Rain or shine, there he is, running up the long hill that we travel to bring my daughter to preschool. He looks to be in his mid-sixties, his running clothes aren’t fancy and he isn’t moving all that fast, but nonetheless, there he is running that hill each morning.
I’ve been runner on and off for many years, finishing two marathons and a handful of half-marathons over the past 10 years. Since I had my daughter three years ago, the time available for running has narrowed, so there are weeks when it seems like calling myself a runner is silly, since I’ve only run twice and the runs have been short. Then there are times, like the other night when I had the chance to run with friends, when I run harder than I think I can, and afterwards feel absolutely amazing: tough and strong like a “real” runner once more.
I run because I think if run enough I can eat ice cream and drink beer without gaining weight, if I run enough I will continue to look good in shorts and don’t not worry so much about donning a bathing suit, if I run enough then hiking and snowshoeing will be easyt and if I run enough it will keep me healthy so that I can live a long, long time. Here’s what we know about the benefits of running:
- Running can boost your metabolism, help you lose weight and help you keep extra weight off, even as you age. Runners, like everyone else, inevitably gain weight in their middle and later years, but there’s evidence that those who run 30 or more miles per week can expect to gain only about half of the weight their sedentary or less active peers will gain as they age.
- Running can increase the number of HDL’s (good cholesterol) in your blood, lowering your overall risk of heart disease (i.e. heart attack and stroke).
- Running triggers a release of endorphins, the body’s own pain-killing, feel-good opiates, giving you a sense of overall well-being (just like acupuncture!).
- Running may slow down the aging process by activating molecules thatat promote cell repair and growth.
- Running can help you sleep better. Studies have shown that long-distance runners and most people who increase their exercise fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer than non-runners.
I know all you non-runners out there are groaning and rolling your eyes, but here’s the thing: just substitute “vigorous exercise” (exercise at an intensity that causes sweating, heavy breathing or a heart rate near maximum) for “running” and reap the same benefits. Exercise for your health, your looks or so you can have the occasional banana split, but move your body vigorously as much as you can and your body will pay you back in spades.
Now, I’m not perfect. I don’t always stick to the running schedule I’ve set for myself and I can come up with a million reasons not to run. But when I see that man running up that hill day after day, I am inspired to dig deep and get out my running shoes. Because if he can do it, then I can do it. And, reader, if I can do it, then you can too.