Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I run because there are no excuses...

In a previous posting I talked about extending Steve Prefontaine's idea of 'giving anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift' beyond simply giving your all in a race. Extending this idea to include the notion that to NOT run (period) when one CAN is sacrificing the gift has always made a lot of sense to me for a variety of reasons.

I firmly believe that almost everyone 'can' run in some way, shape, or form if they really want to. I would never claim that ANYONE can run a marathon....or should for that matter. But, given that I spend most of my waking hours encouraging people to BELIEVE they in fact CAN run, it's no surprise that I believe most truly can.

If a mile a day a few times is all you can reasonably support, no problem. But, I think far too many people simply jettison the idea of doing any kind of substantive running for a variety of reasons that generally don't hold much water such as...

-It hurts.

OK, this is valid. Running 'can' indeed hurt. It's one of the most taxing things you can ask your body to do as evidenced by the fact that running is often touted as one of the most economical/efficient ways to burn calories and lose weight.

Given the taxing nature of the act, it's not surprising that someone unfamiliar with the sport would simply view it as too uncomfortable and hang up the shoes. But, just as with any other activity, it takes some patience and TIME before your body becomes acclimated to the act of running and engaging in it becomes a bit more 'comfortable'. Running is a sport that rewards the patient.

I imagine most things you are proficient at now you were not so proficient at when you first started. Chances are it was continued study, practice, and application that enabled you to become more proficient. Running is no different, ultimately. It just tends to be a bit more uncomfortable to 'become' proficient at than many other activities.

-Running causes injuries.

Once again, this is valid to a certain degree. Running 'can' cause injuries, serious ones sometimes. But, most running related aggravations or injuries are NOT that severe and can be addressed by making some changes to your training, icing, stretching, doing self-massage, etc.

Shin splints, knee discomfort, tight calves, and tight IT band(s) are often seen with people who are new to the sport. Lack of knowledge, experience, and proper conditioning can lead to the aforementioned. That being said, none of the aforementioned is a death sentence! All of it can be overcome with....once again...some patience (and some diligent treatment).

Even the more severe injuries such as stress fractures, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis can usually be overcome. There may not be a quick fix associated with the aforementioned, but once again...patience and perseverance can go a long way.

-I'm not built to do it.

For starters, we were born with the ability to do it. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that we were persistence hunters at some point in the not too distant past. Forced to track our prey for hours, days, and miles, we were natural runners. Albeit, we certainly were not the fastest as no one can run terribly fast for hours, days, and miles. To not run in some respects is like a bird choosing to not fly.

Granted, we come in all different shapes and sizes. Someone who is 6'5 and 250 pounds will have a different experience running 10 miles than someone who is 5'2 and 115 pounds. I'm not a gambling man, but if I had to choose one who was more likely to incur an aggravation, I'd go with the former just because of the impact associated with a 250 pound person's foot hitting the pavement on a regular basis.

However, I could be completely wrong. Maybe the person who is 5'2 has TERRIBLE biomechanics and is wearing the wrong shoes despite the fact that their body might be better 'designed' for the act of running. Maybe the 6'5 runner runs like a gazelle and has bones like steel. But, I fundamentally believe we were all born to run. It's just a question of how much, how far, how fast, and how intense.

Just watch an episode of 'The Biggest Loser'. If someone who has never run in their life and weighs in excess of 300 pounds can get into the kind of shape to run a marathon, what excuse do the rest of us have for not running a few miles every once in awhile?

Really, what are the legitimate excuses not to run? I would say if you're handicapped and/or bedridden or otherwise have been advised by a physician specifically NOT to run, that's completely valid.

But, of all the people out there who choose not to run, how many of them genuinely fall into the aforementioned category? I'd venture to say not too many of them. So, I run because there really are no legitimate excuses not to.

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