Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Reasons Why I love to Run

I started running back in 2008 after my recovery from pneumonia.  I had been athletic most of my life, but fell into the adult trap of working eating and going to bed.  Other than mowing the lawn or shoveling snow, exercise was not part of my repertoire.  So, when I was diagnosed with pneumonia on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday of 2007 I stopped smoking because its hard to smoke when you cant inhale without coughing and I decided to just stop following the pneumonia diagnosis.  So, that is when I started to take an active role in my health.

I kicked smoking cold turkey with a little help from a lung infection.  Then I started to watch my carb in take and followed a rigid Atkins diet starting in January of 2008.  To sweeten the pot, my co-workers decided to have a weight loss contest.  With in 30 days I dropped at least 30 lbs.  My weight fell from 211 to 181 or so.  By April, I was sitting in the bleachers waiting for my son to finish up a Little League practice that seemed to last forever.  I had nothing to do, so I went for an afternoon run to kill the time.  I remember how hard it was to run that day.  I huffed and puffed.  I dripped in sweat, yet I made it back to the car and the ball field.  Once my son hopped into the car I drove the way I ran just to see how far I had gone; I ran a little less than a mile.  It was a start. The next practice I set a goal of running half of the square of roads that circumnavigated the field, and I did it, success.  That was only about a 2 miles.  Soon I slowed my pace and made it around the entire square of streets, almost 4 miles.  That when I started getting motivated, but I did not consider myself a runner yet.  I was a jogger, but no runner.

I won the contest at work.  I continued to run.  I stepped outside my comfort zone and actually told a few friends that I was running during my sons Little League practice.  Telling others really reinforces your commitment and also provided some positive re-enforcement.  Some folk said, "That's great; I used to run in college."  Others would say, "I wish I could find the time to exercise, never mind the running."  While a few friends would say, and I found this to be the most motivating factor, "You're crazy to run."  I loved hearing that.  So I continued to run.  I loved running.  However, I didn't actually consider myself a runner until I was asked to participate in a local run by a friend of mine who was an organizer of Paige's Butterfly Run. 

What a fun time that was.  I was nervous.  I was actually going to run, for the first time with hundreds of other people and receive a time. I will see how I compare to people who ARE RUNNERS.  I remember the excitement at the starting line.  I saw so many people I knew.  I had an awesome time, but the biggest take away was what I saw while running.

I saw men and women, boys and girls of all ages, sizes, and ability running.  Everyone was happy; everyone had the same goal to finish the race.  No one thought less of another runner because they were slow, overweight, old, or not athletic. Everyone in the race supported each other.  I had a conversations with several people about the course, about work, or about the beautiful day.  It didn't matter.  We were running.  As my friend Mike said, "You accomplished what 90%of Americans haven't accomplished today?" 

I replied, "Oh yeah?  Whats that?"

Mike said, "You got your ass off the couch."

That is true.  I was no longer a couch potato.. I was a runner.  I could run a 5K!  Maybe do more.  But, running helped push my weigh down as low as 158, but I have stabilized at 165.  I am happy with that but feel best closer to 160.  I only get that close as I get more intense about running and truly become conscious of my eating habits.

So, with that being said, What are my Top Reasons for Loving to Run?

1.  I love the act of running.  The ability to focus on my movement and to listen to my breathing puts me in a zone that takes away any pain.

2.  I love the solitude.  Even when running with others, once you hit that zone everything fades away.  At that point, its just you and your thoughts.  I find my most creative thinking to occur while I am running.  I think about running (first), but I also think about my life and interactions with people and co-workers.  I have thoughts about how I could make a difference in the world although I am still cogitating on how I may accomplish that task.  But having the ability to run and clear your mind from the daily grind is a huge relief.  A day without a run (or a bike ride) makes me quite grumpy.

3.  I feel good.  Running makes me feel good.  I feel like I've earned my meal for the day.  My pants seem to fit just a bit more comfortable.  I hate feeling uncomfortable.  Don't you?  Tight jeans or shorts ruin my day.  If or when I feel bloated, I go for a run.

4.  I love that I can take running with me where ever I go.  All I need is a pair of sneakers (preferably Nike), shorts, socks, and a t-shirt I can run anywhere.  I've run in Boston, NYC, San Diego, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Long Island, Saratoga Springs, Florida, and many other places.  Running takes you places and lets you see and do things that you may otherwise miss; for example, I have run the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum and took a selfie with Rocky.

5.  I love running because I have met new friends.  I meet other runners by participating in races, fundraisers, and clubs.  As a matter of fact, while running in Paige's Butterfly Run, I met Ray and John.  We ran together every Thursday at Onondaga Lake Park.  Eventually we ran Thursdays and Saturdays.  Soon we started a running club, The Lake Effect Run Club.  We started with an idea to run and invite others to run on Saturday mornings at the OLP.  We created a web page and posted our runs and told a story about each run, whether it was a weekly run or a race we participated in.   Soon we had 10, 15, 25, or 50 people running with us.  So running brings people together in a positive manner.

Those are my top 5 reasons to run.  I hope you, after reading my post, step outside your comfort zone and tie up your laces to run.  Who cares how far.  Who cares how fast.  Remember the words of my buddy, Mike, "You got your ass off the couch."

Til then, I will see you on the road.
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