Mention to anyone that you’re a runner and try to gauge the level of disinterest on their face. Often the reaction is the same as when I mention I’m a vegetarian – that roll of the eyes, wrinkle of the nose – you know. Disdain. As though I am suddenly offensive for my choices. (Let me just clarify that I do not introduce myself as a runner or a vegetarian. It comes about through a natural conversational discourse. These two things are part of who I am; they do not define who I am.)
If they do take an interest, often it’s because they are either (A) a runner themselves – BONUS! – or (B) an anti-runner – ANTI-BONUS! What do I mean by anti-runner? Typically, these are the sort that have an unnatural aversion to running for running’s own sake. When finding themselves face-to-face with a runner, the anti-runner suddenly becomes quite knowledgable in all things running-related, particularly what they deem the negative effects of the exercise. They will describe the horrors of osteoporosis, incredible joint pain and foot pain, and other such detriment to your body. Unfortunately for the anti-runner, he/she does not possess accurate knowledge of the topics he/she espouses so vehemently. Perhaps their time would be better spent shutting up, yes?
Because, when training is performed correctly, running does not produce any of these. In reality (this little place I like to frequent), running is more likely to prevent these ailments. In much the same way you can train your muscles to be stronger, you can train your bones to do the same. One of the best ways to do so? You’re so smart, I know you guessed it. RUNNING. But that’s not the end of it, folks. Not by a long shot.
What else can running do for you? There’s the blatantly obvious benefit of fat loss. You know that joint pain and degenerative bone disease I mentioned just a moment ago? Guess who’s at risk for that? That’s right – those that need to lose weight. So running can pack a double whammy for those on the wrong side of the scale. While they shed the excess, they’re alleviating that extra carriage on their bones AND strengthening those bones at the same time. You’re falling in love a little bit, aren’t you? But wait! There’s more!
Running is a stress reliever and depression aid! Now, to be fair, these results can also be found with any form of physical exercise. But get ready for another truth: the benefits are GREATER when the exercise is more INTENSE. Chalene Johnson, at the end of a TurboFire workout, talks about how problems that may have seemed huge before you worked out suddenly don’t seem so big after you’ve gotten a good sweat on. Know what? It’s true! Running and TurboFire have saved many a life (and me some jail time). Know what else? I was a prozac-taker in my 20’s. Now that I’m a regular endorphin-producer myself, I don’t even get mildly blue – and I’m medication free. While I do a fair amount of sweatin’ in my very own living room, I credit running with the majority of my stress relief. Those weeks away from it only proved this theory. I was feeling tense, kind of “built up.” And then I began training for the Runner’s World Half Marathon – and my mind settled in a way it just doesn’t with Insanity, TurboFire, or P90X. I can zone out when I run, find my zen. And yes, I’m aware that the mere mention of “zen” can make noses wrinkle in disdain as well. To those wrinklers I say, “Be glad I work out and alleviate the need the punch your wrinkled nose.” Of course, it’s said with love in my heart and a sincere smile…
Runners have healthier hearts. Healthier hearts equal longer lives. Not just longer – but fuller. (That’s what she said.) It’s an obvious connection (to us clear-headed runners, anyway), but let me spell it out for you. Picture an inactive, overweight, depressed, poor-bone-density gal…Now picture ME. Clear enough?
Now, I’m not saying everyone has to lace up a pair of Ghosts and go running. I’m just saying…it’s not the joint-killer the haters make it out to be. It’s good for you, whether they like it or not. And yes – there are actual studies to back this up. My guess is the anti-runner is neither scientist, trainer, physiologist, or doctor. But that’s just my guess. (My guess is they also lay claim that vegetarianism simply canNOT be healthy, women bulk up when they lift weights, and diet soda is better for your body.)
Note also that I gave the caveat “when performed properly.” That means you’re not immediately tackling 10-mile runs or even running the entire time. If you’re a babe to the world of running, start with walk/run intervals. Go short distances. BUILD UP. Do your research. Read some Galloway. Also – CROSSTRAIN. Don’t run every single day, no matter how blissful and zenlike it makes you feel. Every other day, confuse your muscles. Strength train. Bike. Swim. Whatever laces your sneaker.
And never forget the all important REST DAY. Suck it up and feed your endorphin addiction with a little light yoga. But pick at least one day a week and lay off the intensity. Trust me – it’ll feel even better when you return. I speak from personal experience.
To all the anti-runners out there – it’s better if you keep your eye rolls to a minimum. Because not only am I a vegetarian runner, I’m an Insaniac and TurboFire grad…which means I’ve garnered some pretty serious guns and I know how to throw a punch…And if you’re low on luck, you may catch me on a crosstraining day when I’m not feeling quite so zen…
To all the RUNNERS and those that may not run but know what I’m talkin’ about because you have your very own soulmate workout – keep truckin’. I’ll see YOU at the finish line.
*If you’d like more “science-y” data, check out these articles: