Why run?

‘You love running’ my wife says to me as I am pulling on my trainers to head out of the door.

Like any relationship I have my highs and lows with running.  I think my ultimate running low would have to be being over taken by four men running inside a canoe down the mall during London Marathon and if that wasn’t bad enough Snoopy followed shortly afterwards.

Although, I don’t think anything however can trump my father who while running the Berlin marathon alongside a rather high profile footballer was followed by the street sweeper hot on their trail ready to re-open the street for traffic to take to the road.

That aside some days are easier to hit the tarmac than others.  On a cold dark winters morning as I pull on my running kit the prospect of pulling myself around a cold wet park can be far from appealing. Yet I force myself time and time again to get myself out there and even I ask myself on occasion why?

The truth is for me the reasons for running are numerous, so if you are not already a runner I will attempt to entice you with my reasoning:

Diet

My family and I try to eat as healthily as possible and I am fortunate that my wife is a fantastic cook and always focuses on the health aspect for every plate of food presented during the week.  However, I love a pie, a pasty and a cake  (although not necessarily together) as much as the next man (or woman) and if I’m honest I’ve only just returned home after having a Chinese for lunch on a Sunday.

Knowing that I am burning so many extra calories during the week means I can let my non existent hair down and enjoy the more decadent side of my diet within reason of course.

Fitness

Recently a friend of mine turned to me as we sipped on a pint and said and I quote ‘What’s it like to be mistaken for Richard from the board game guess who?’  I frantically pulled out my phone as he disappeared to the toilet to remind myself of who he was referring too.  To my horror he had nailed the likeness. Google it if you don’t know who Richard is!

In my recent years I’ve realised I can’t control genetics and I’ve become quite used to seeing the light bounce of my bald head when I see my reflection in the mirror and I’ve also noticed that my joints are starting to ache a little more than in my twenties.

However, what I can control is my ability to stay relatively fit and with two challenging toddlers, running allows me to slip out of the house and be back before they have torn it down. Only this morning I managed an 8.5 mile training run before 9am although admittedly I did have a running friend coax me out. There is simply no need to spend laborious hours in the gym.

It also means I am a favourite for the dads race on school sports day not that I’ve thought about it at all.

Mental Health/Sanity

Life can be hard sometimes.  Stress, anxiety, depression are all normal emotions to feel from time to time.

For me add into that mix two feral, I mean demanding children and a stressful full time job and sometimes you feel like you might just explode. Especially after a long day at work and then coming home and having to negotiate with your toddler at bedtime who won’t go to sleep until they’ve had a babybel, a glass of milk, gone to the toilet for the third time, had a story,  sung baby shark do do, said goodnight to the garden, called Nana, watched another Waffle the Wonder Dog and reclothed barbie because she’s cold….. you catch my drift.

Whether its work,children, a broken down relationship or any other issue we all have our cross to bear at some point and I’d lie if I said I haven’t faced difficult and challenging times myself in the past.

What running offers at me at  these points is time out, time alone with my thoughts to think things through.  More often that not by the time I put my key in the front door I’ve found a way to address whatever issue has been on my mind.

Plus it saves my wife having to murder me.

Reward 

It’s always worrying when you receive a Christmas card from your local fast food chain and in the past a large dominoes pizza and a bottle of wine would have formed stiff competition to the prospect of putting on my trainers.  Now I leave that for a Friday night.

In order to run you have to be self motivated.  Nobody can run for you.  Along with the natural high you obtain from the endorphins pulsing around your body the sense of accomplishment you get on completing a run of any distance is fantastic. The reward doesn’t have to come from a good time or position in a race it can simply be that you completed a run you set yourself to do and knowing that the motivation came from you.

Competition

The beauty of running is that the competition only comes from within. You can compete with yourself, the clock, other runners or nothing at all.

For me I am still looking for a re-run against Snoopy although I’ve also left some business out on the Cardiff half marathon course that I’m looking to rectify in a few weeks.

Running is one of the few sports where endurance improves as you age , so I’m told. Although I am not going to be turning into Mo Farah anytime soon turning back the clock on my PB’s is the competitive element of running that I am relishing at this moment in time.

How many other sports give you an age category finishing place on completion?

And Finally………

Community and friendship

The sense of community in running is unbelievable and you only have to turn up to a park run initiative on a Saturday morning to see how many people have joined the running craze.

To be joined by an army of people of all abilities young and old, some running with prams, some with dogs all willing each other on is quite a sight.

It’s not just park run, you only had join a running club, enter a race or run with a friend to find this community.

I myself have made some new friendships in recent weeks along with some friendly rivalries.

Whether any of them are the Snoopy I’ve been searching for I don’t know. What I do know is the next time my wife says ‘You love running’ I can answer ‘Yes, for the most part I do’ I just hope its not too long before she joins me for a run too. 

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