Running: The Greenest Form of Exercise?

Hello, blogosphere! It’s been far too long since my last post, and I am dreadfully sorry.  I have no excuse.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about blogging, I just, well, haven’t. So, without further ado, I give you my latest post:

Exercise, for me, is a peculiarity.  I don’t do it too often, and I get bored when I do most forms of it.  So when I first started thinking, “Oh dear, I am not in the best shape in the world–not terrible, but definitely not the best,” I decided that I had to find something that I could afford and that would keep my interest throughout life.  I’ve tried gyms, lots of gyms, with lots of different exercises.  I get bored halfway through a weightlifting sequence, a run on a treadmill, or halfway across a pool and end up just sort of…floating.  Just staring, just looking at all the other gym members running like hamsters on wheels, and I realized I was one of those hamsters.  Then I thought about my brother, about how he has run in track since junior high school and how he always posts pictures of all the wonderous trails and spectacular vistas he’s run across. So I decided running would become my thing.

I’m still working on it.

Running, for me (when I feel well), is an escape.  Once my body gets in the rhythm, once I’ve exercised regularly enough that I don’t feel like I’m going to collapse and die at any moment, the world expands, and I appreciate the world’s beauty far more than when I’m consumed in other aspects of everyday life.  Running, with or without music, I forget the rhythm of my breath and focus on the rhythm of my feet, the feel of the wind or sun on my face, the spectacular vision of raindrops on tree limbs, the gorgeous mountains that rise above me.  Of course, when I don’t feel well, running feels like torture that I must get through.  And there’s the uncomfortable fact that I still only run maybe a mile or two per hour faster than most people walk.

There are, however, other benefits to running outdoors, ones that more closely correspond to the overarching themes of this blog.

Running is one of the cheapest, greenest forms of exercise out  there (at least that I’ve found).  If you’re not running on a treadmill, then you’re running on your own power.  And unless you are running for extremely long distances, you don’t have to carry water, food, or supplies on your person.  A single pair of good running shoes can last hundreds of miles, and the usually-expensive exercise clothes can be bought for only a few dollars at a local second-hand thrift store.  There is no need for other special equipment or personal trainers.  Sure, you can get personal trainers if you need that extra boost of adrenaline, but you can find most training techniques online.  Or, if you’re like me and all those trainings bore you, you can just go out and run and let your body guide you.  And while running in races can get pricy, if you search you can find free ones or ones that support good causes rather than corporations.

I first became “serious” about running after reading the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.  I already had my younger brother for inspiration, but reading this book really made me think, “Wait, if these people can just suddenly start running, then so can I.” I started running, tried and discarded all the 5K training plans I could find, and eventually just ran for the heck of it.  And I love it.

I haven’t been able to run lately because I injured my foot in an incident totally unrelated to running (I wore uncomfortable shoes to look good for an interview and they must have pinched a nerve–it’s finally starting to un-pinch), and before that because of life-, family-, and work-problems (and it’s been raining and thundering.  I enjoy running in rain more than most people think is sane, but lightning is my weakness.  I mean, a run can only go so well before it’s ruined by a billion volts of energy shot through you).  Those things are finally behind me, and I look forward to returning to my preferred form of green and endorphin-releasing exercise.

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