Thursday, July 19, 2012

Running along

What is it about running that makes it appealing and/or frightening? For a lot of folks I know, running is not easy and unless they’re being chased, it’s not happening. It should be easier though; you strap on some shoes, don some shorts and a light shirt and hit the road. There's not much to it really, it's just a simple activity.

Motivating people to get out and actually run however, is no easy task. There are always a few major obstacles to overcome first, like owning the right pair of shoes, or whether or not to run with music. Then there’s determining where to run and how far, especially if you’re a beginner. Mostly it’s just the fear of looking like a complete dork to all the people driving by.

Running is hard work. It takes time to develop the muscles in your legs so they don’t ache after every run. On top of it all, running seems to be the most fan un-friendly sport ever. Consider this; I can’t go out and buy my favorite runners jersey. When was the last time you saw a Ryan Hall or a Shalane Flanagan shirt at the store? (Extra points if you know either).

Being a runner also requires a willingness to get out there in the questionable weather, not just the sunny days. It takes a commitment that requires a certain self motivation that a lot of people lack. Most of all, you probably need to be a little weird to be willing to run distances like 26 miles…all at once…in the rain…just because.

The toughest thing about getting into running seems to be the belief that it is an individual sport. Let’s face it; running is not considered a team sport unless you’re on a relay team in track and field. In a team sport, we can jump into a softball game and know there are at least 8 to 9 other players on our team that can fill a void if we’re not very good. When you run, if you’re extremely slow it can be demoralizing and keep you from running at all. Then add sore muscles, sweat and exhaustion and we’re back to only running when chased.

It’s easy to see why running might be something to fear, especially when talking about marathon distances and aching joints. Running is certainly not for the faint of heart, but for some of us, running is therapeutic.

For me, this past 18 months has been about the little known aspect of running; the social side. I have made significant friendships in my running circles and I have discovered how much I enjoy running with someone, especially in order to carry on a conversation. There are not many sports where the same can be said, in fact there are no notable team sports where 2 people can carry on a conversation while in the midst of participating. This truly makes running unique.

Growing up, I did not want to be a runner. In fact, I can’t think of a single friend of mine who actually grew up wanting to be a runner. For those of us who have become runners, it’s something we added later in life. We determined that running might be good for us and we were all just sick enough in the head to try it. It turns out that running is not only good for us physically, but spiritually too.

This may not motivate you to hurry out, strap on those shoes and jog 13 miles but running is so basic, so intrinsic to who we are that nearly anyone can do it. Unlike many sports that take considerable coordination, running merely takes a little training and a little push to get out there. There is no question you can do it. And when you do, I’ll run with you.