I hear the stories time and time again. A friend wants to start running for a race, or to lose weight, and they inevitably push themselves over their body’s limit. Next thing you know, they’re telling you they’re injured. Big surprise people, ahem, sarcasm. I don’t understand why this happens so frequently, why this story is so common no matter your age. Our bodies are machines, and like all machines they require consistent use at a high level to maintain that level, especially as we get older. Going from sloth to running five miles a day for five days straight is like not using your car for a year and then driving it across the country. We all know what happens next, but we also know the solution. I decided years ago that fitness would be a daily part of my life and I’ve made it a staple. Run for life people!
Why do some people get injured while others don’t? A lot has to do with our unique bodies, but every one of us can be a runner. Injuries are not inevitable when you listen to your body along the way. I speak from experience. I started running when I was fourteen years old and I’ve had moments when I loved it and moments when I hated it. I also went through a nine month period (because of illness) where it was extremely hard, painful, and relatively impossible for me to run. So I stopped. I listened to my body. When I was finally able to run again, it was one of the hardest things I ever did. Getting back into running, back to the point where I’d been, was a huge challenge, but it wasn’t optional. I’m always amazed at how many people look at running as a casual exercise. It is not. It takes commitment. It takes patience. And it’s a lifelong fitness adventure, made uniquely for everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely applaud anyone who decides they want to run a marathon, especially those who have never been runners before. But too many take the decision lightly. They train for a few months and expect themselves to be good to go. And that right there is it people! Expecting that running for a few months will lead you to be an expert runner is crazy. Running, like any intense fitness activity, is not a casual experience. And running for distance is a building process. You need to listen to your body. You need to know your limits and learn when you can push past them. And most importantly, you must stop comparing yourself to others. Our fitness is as unique as we are. Embrace it!
Running evolves and changes along with you. I’m mainly an outdoor runner now and I get out there every day. But no two runs are the same. Some days my legs feel like they’re moving so slowly. Other days it’s effortless and I feel like I could run an entire marathon. Mark this down as truth when it comes to running and fitness; if you stop doing it for a period of time, you always have to build yourself back up. It’s like starting from the bottom all over again and it sucks! Hot damn does it suck! I would prefer to never have to do that again.
I plan on running until the day my body won’t let me. In the meantime, I listen to it. I appreciate all of my progresses no matter how big or small. I value the effort and dedication it takes to be a runner. I also take care of my body. And you want to know what really keeps me going? I don’t feel like myself if I take more than a day or two off from running. I crave that run. I want it. Plus I know the secret people; everyone can run! You have to want to, but once you embrace it you’ll be knocking down those mental and physical walls left and right. And the leftovers normally crumble without you even noticing!
I’m always amazed at how many people I meet who don’t like to run, or who keep getting injured while running. Slow down and enjoy the journey. To quote an excellent book, we’re all born to run. Every one of us can love it. It’s all you people! Running is my favorite part of the day! I can’t live my life without it and I wouldn’t want to. I run for myself. I don’t run to complete a 5k, a tough mudder, a half marathon, or a marathon (I’ve actually never run a race as an adult). I only need one reason to run; it makes me feel alive! I know I’ll keep running for life. Hopefully you’ll join me!