Monday, January 05, 2009

Reasons NOT To Run

If you read Runners World, Running Times, or just about any running related publication out there, you are CONSTANTLY reminded of the innumerable reasons why one SHOULD run. Virtually all of them are very good reasons. But, what about all of the reasons NOT to run? I'm being half-serious here. I work with a reasonable number of runners and am frequently amused at the reasons why one 'can't' run. Listed below in no particular order are a few of my FAVORITES reasons why one 'can't' run and how I often respond to said reasons when they are presented.


I LOVE THIS ONE! We live in San Francisco which was named the best running city IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY by Runner's World in 2005! The weather here is virtually perfect for running year round. I grew up in Kansas where winters were bitterly cold, bleak, and depressing for MONTHS on end. The worst winter day in San Francisco is a feeble facsimile of a REAL winter day just about anywhere else in the country. This is not to say it doesn't get cold (relatively speaking) every once in awhile in San Francisco, but when was the last time we had a day in San Francisco where the mercury dropped below 30? That's what I thought. If you think it's cold here, you should check out the Antarctica Marathon where the average windchill temperature is -20....and a few hardy souls STILL RUN! Rest assured, there are few circumstances in which it is 'too cold' to run...provided you're dressed appropriately.

It is TOO HOT!

I'll be honest, I actually found myself thinking this periodically in 2008 as San Francisco experienced an unseasonably WARM fall. It seemed that virtually every day in September and October that year had a high somewhere in the 80's if not 90's. Given that I was training for a marathon and my schedule pretty much only allowed me to run in the middle of the day, it was hard to hide from the heat.

But, every time I found myself whining about the heat I reminded myself again of the BRUTAL heat/humidity I used to deal with in the land of Oz. Summers were often in the 90s with stifling humidity. I foolishly went for a run in the middle of the day when I was in high school and almost gave myself heatstroke. Heat/humidity can be rough no doubt about it, but look at the Badwater Ultramarathon. These lunatics run in temperatures so hot their shoes melt! We're talking temperatures as high as 130! Yes, 80-90 degrees is no walk in the park, but if these clowns are knocking out ridiculous mileage in 130 degree weather, 80-90 is chilly in comparison.


Continuing with the weather related reasons to NOT run, we've got 'it's too rainy'! I'm not a fan of deluges myself, but it's not often we see monsoon-like conditions in San Francisco. Granted, we do see wet/blustery conditions periodically during the winter and the occasional random day in the middle of the year, but typically it's never 'too rainy' to run. A rain resistant slicker, a waterproof hat, and a water-resistant pair of running pants will get you through just about any rainy weather in San Francisco. If we lived in Seattle, I'd have a bit more sympathy for this excuse.


I am definitely not one to throw caution to the wind and I will say if you're a woman running alone in the dark wearing an ipod, you're not being as smart as you could be. Bringing a running partner with you and unplugging the ipod would be a better way to approach a dark evening out on the road. But, if you wear light colored clothing, a reflective vest and/or lights, and some kind of headlight illuminating the path in front of you, running at night can be quite frankly one of the most exhilarating running experiences you've ever had.

I always find I run faster at night and there are studies that have indicated most people do run faster in the evening for the sole reason that they are fully warmed up. In theory, you've been up and out/about for several hours prior to your run. Your muscles should be loose, limber, and warm. This raises the question in my mind why we don't see more races taking place in the evening!


I'm tired, you're tired, everyone I know is TIRED! All of us are overextended, over asked, and overwhelmed! I will be honest in saying I've copped out of a few runs in my lifetime because I am 'too tired'. Admittedly, sometimes a glass of wine and some pizza is just too seductive to walk (or run) away from. BUT, I will say that every time I've managed to fight off the urge to knock back a glass or two of vino and get my ass out on the road, I've INVARIABLY felt better once I got rolling. Wine and pizza ultimately PALES in comparison to the natural endorphins, adrenaline, and fresh air of a quality run. You can always have the wine and pizza AFTER the run and feel relatively guilt-free about it!


Admittedly, I work with a crowd that likes to be social..perhaps a bit too much...not that I encourage it or anything ;) Remarkably enough, I've found myself rolling out of the bed and hitting the road when everything seemed a bit fuzzy.

Going for a run may be the LAST thing in the world you feel like doing and I'm not going to tell you it's going to be nirvana every step of the way, BUT....I PROMISE you will start to feel more human after a couple miles. Truly, running is pretty much the best hangover cure I've experienced. I don't know if it's the sweating out of toxins, getting the blood flowing, or getting the heart pumping...all I know is it works WELL!

My last run SUCKED!

Newsflash! Not EVERY run is going to feel COSMIC and TRANSCENDENT! In fact, most runs don't! The runner's high is elusive, my friends. It comes on days you least expect it and fails to appear on the days when you need it most. Most runs fall somewhere between miserable and blissful. If you're lucky you get more runs that tend towards the 'blissful' side and less on the 'miserable' side.

But, just as you must accept that pain and disappointment is a part of life, such is the case with running as well. The best you can do is put a crappy run behind you and keep moving forward. Not surprisingly, the same can be said of life. Let the bad stuff go and just keep moving forward. There really is no other option at the end of the day.


yuko said...

Too funny! These are MY everyday execuses! I'm posting this on my wall now. Thank you Matt!

Jim G. said...

Great responses, Matt! Can you spend some time on when to run if you're not feeling well (ie. cold/flu/etc)?