Don’t Run from Running!

November 4th, 2013 | By Lindsey Ebert No Comments

3.4-steps-and-strides

3.4-steps-and-strides-2As a sport, running goes back to at least 490 BC, when a ‘day-runner’ named Pheidippides reportedly ran 149 miles to warn the Spartans of the Persians landing in the city of Marathon. This story is the origin of the 26.2 mile race now known as the marathon, first run in the modern Olympic Games in 1896. Running can be intimidating. Many see it as more of a hassle or a chore than an enjoyable experience, especially marathons (or, even more so, a 149-mile run). For me, running has always been something more than some sort of torture disguised as exercise in the hot summer Georgia sun.

When I was eight years old, my dad signed me up for the Peachtree Road Race Junior. Since that day, during which I struggled to complete a 3K jog, running has been my passion. It became something I could enjoy with family and friends while maintaining physical fitness. Casual running with my dad turned into competitive running in high school, and eventually collegiate racing as a member of the cross country and track team at UGA.

Running isn’t just for competition, though. As Henry Dwyer, this month’s Athlete on the MOVE (see page 16), says, “There is a place in running for everybody.” Whether you’re a casual runner who enjoys the social and physical fitness aspect, or a competitive runner who enjoys the thrill of race day, there IS a place for you in this sport.

Running gives you the opportunity to unwind from a long day at school or work and enjoy alone time or time socializing with friends, and it also has many health benefits:

  • Increased lung function
  • Boosted immune system
  • Lower risk of breast cancer
  • Reduced risk of heart attacks
  • Weight loss

Running also has potential psychological benefits. Achieving goals can help you build self-confidence. Stress relief and eliminating depression are also possible outcomes of lacing up and getting out the door.

Still not sold on the idea of running for fun? Don’t worry. We all have to start somewhere. Walking is a great alternative and can even become a lifetime activity. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any other physical activity and has many of the same positive physical and psychological benefits as running, such as:

  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • Lower chances of developing dementia
  • Lower cholesterol

If the health benefits aren’t enough to get you running or walking, consider the potential social aspect. Some of my best friends are the teammates that I have had throughout the years and have run countless miles with. Finding a consistent running or walking partner or group can help hold you accountable while also making this form of exercise more enjoyable. Even walking the dog can be a great way to get out and meet new people!

Athens Road Runners provides a community for runners of all ages and abilities. You can join group runs or even receive personal coaching by visiting their website, www.athensrr.org. Athens Road Runners, new Fleet Feet located at Five Points in Athens, and UGA also have recreational running clubs.

Running and walking are the simplest and oldest forms of exercise out there and have countless benefits. All you need is a pair of shoes and the motivation to get started. For more tips and tricks involving every level of running and walking, make sure you’re reading Steps and Strides in every issue of Athens MOVE!

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