There seem to be two types of people in this world: those who spring out their front door and rock out a quick 10K before breakfast, and those who regard running as punishment for that candy bar they ate the other day.
Well, okay, there are probably a few more shades of gray in between those two extremes, but it’s no secret that a lot of people really don’t like running. In fact, they hate running. And yet, many of these people who hate running do an awful lot of running themselves.
If it’s so terrible, and so universally disliked, why do they keep doing it? Well, it turns out that running provides a lot of benefits that might outweigh its boot camp-like intimidation factor.
It Costs Basically Nothing
If you want to take a spin class, you have to buy a punch card that somehow rivals the price of a car payment. If you want to get into skiing, you need equipment, outerwear and protective clothing, not to mention a nearby mountain.
For a lot of people, cost is a huge deterrent to starting an exercise program, so this is one area where running can really shine.
What do you need to begin running? Sneakers? Check. An old T-shirt and shorts? Check. A bottle of water? Check. Beyond that, you really don’t need anything.
Sure, there are plenty of high-tech running shoes, sweat bands, fitness trackers, and kinesio tape you could also pile on, but these aren’t at all necessary. Technically speaking, nearly every person reading this could begin running right now with nothing more sophisticated than a change of shoes, and a quick hamstring stretch.
It’s Really Not a Race
You’ve heard the term “it’s not a race.” And while it might seem totally counterintuitive to say that to someone who is literally about to start, you know, running, it’s really true.
We’re hoping that the first time you try your hand (foot?) at running, it won’t be in a half marathon. It’s much more likely that you will begin by running around your neighborhood, around the track at the local high school, or through a local park.
Running is often a solitary activity. For some people, working out alone can seem intimidating, for others it can seem downright heavenly.
When you’re working out on your own, you don’t feel that crushing sense of competition that can come along with other sports. You’re not going to get dunked on while you’re running and there’s no opposing team to snatch any type of spherical object away from you. It’s you versus you, and for a lot of people, that’s a pretty chill way to work out.
People from all walks of life enjoy running. Sometimes, people consider running to be absolutely essential to their career, even if their career very specifically requires them to sit still.
Writers, for instance, often report that they come up with their best ideas, or are able to push past an annoying case of writer’s block when they are out pounding the pavement. Musicians may also find inspiration on a run.
One really does get into a zone while running, so some of those thousand-yard stares you see on the track might actually reflect someone deep in thought, rather than someone deeply despising what they’re doing. (Maybe.)
The Runner’s High is Real
Normally, telling someone “This will be really terrible at first,” is awful salesmanship, but for those who have experienced the runner’s high, it still sells.
Most people who hate running really hate the initial discomfort of it all. You’re taking your body from stillness to speed, and maintaining that will sometimes bring on muscle and bone aches.
But then your body kicks into this amazing zone where your endorphins are pumping, your reward centers are lighting up, and running suddenly seems like the best thing ever. Physical pain and discomfort virtually vanish, your breathing and heart rate settles, your pace regulates, and you generally feel like a superhero.
This is the runner’s high, and it feels so good that people who truly dislike running will continue to do it just for this moment.
You Make Gains So Fast in the Beginning
Many people worry about starting a running program because they get winded easily, they doubt their physical ability, or they just have terrible memories of high school gym class.
Here’s the thing though; you can start running very slowly, and still make incredible gains in strength and stamina.
There are a number of programs out there which begin by simply having you walk for two minutes, run for 30 seconds, walk for two minutes, and so on until half an hour has passed. The next time, you decrease the amount of time you spend walking and increase the amount of time you spend running. Before you know it, you have gone from huffing and puffing through a 30-second run, to running for 30 minutes without stopping.
This is the kind of athletic gain that people find positively addictive. So much so that they’ll even go running to get it.
Running requires a certain amount of practice and dedication, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but if you think you hate running, maybe you should give it a second chance. You might discover that one of the items we’ve mentioned above rings true for you, and it’s enough to overcome the “ugh” factor.