I began by running 440 yards and then walking 440 yards, and repeating that pattern as I made my way around a local school yard, accompanied by our faithful English Spring Spaniel named Penny. I am not sure who looked forward to it more, Penny or me. As we progressed we began to run for 10 minutes and then walk for 1 minute and repeated those intervals till we were running a few miles together, 2 or 3 times a week.
Eventually I quit smoking, and I lost the weight, and said a tearful goodbye to my furry girl when she left us behind to go where all good dogs go… but I never lost my love for running. Sometimes The Captain would come out with me but I usually ran alone. I often did 10 to 12 miles on Saturday mornings after I attended a Weight Watchers meeting.
Running has helped me through some sad times in my life… the loss of both of my parents as well as 2 wonderful dogs. I run when I am happy, when I am anxious, when I am angry and when I am sad. It gives me the time and space I need to sort out my feelings, and sometimes to just escape from them as well. I cannot imagine that the day will eventually come when I am no longer able to run.
Here is my Valentine to Running....
1. I can run anytime and anywhere
And I have… at sunrise on beaches in Mexico; on a rainy Spring afternoon along the seawalk in Monterrey, California; on the bridges that connect the Florida Keys; on city streets in Toronto, Canada and in Copenhagen, Denmark; on small mountain roads in the Australian Alps; around a hockey rink concourse in the dead of winter in central B.C.; in the middle of the night on treadmills in hotel gyms when travelling for business; and up and down the hills of Seattle, WA and along flat prairie roads in Southern Alberta when visiting family; on mountain lake trails in our Canadian National Parks; on the canal-lined streets in Amsterdam, Holland… and so many more places too numerous to mention.
All I need is a pair of running shoes and I am set to go. If the weather is bad or I am hesitant to go out for safety reasons, I can run indoors and at the very worst, I can run on the spot if it comes to that. There is never a time or a place that I cannot run, if I choose to do it.
2. I can set my own schedule
I don’t have to show up at any special time at any special place to run. I run when I want to and if I decide to delay my run for 15 or 20 minutes, or even a few hours, I can do that too. I am never late for my own run.
On Sunday I was set to go out for a run about an hour after breakfast… then The Captain mentioned that if I waited till noon, he would like to come along with me, so I decided to delay and go with him instead.
And if I plan a 6 km run but it starts to rain while I am out there, I can cut it short and come home early… and by the same token, if I am having a glorious time… I can extend it to 8 or 9 km and enjoy it longer.
It is all up to me.
3. Running is simple and there is nothing complicated to learn
The hardest part about starting to run is getting fitted for a pair of good running shoes… after that, there is nothing special to learn… walking and running are natural motions. All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other and pick up the pace. It really is that simple.
4. Running makes me feel connected to a larger community
When I look out my windows and as I travel around my neighborhood, I see other people running. And when I am running too, they wave to me or say hello to me or nod to me as we pass each other and I experience a friendly feeling of belonging.
When I strike up a conversation with someone new and I mention running, the other person is often a runner or has a family member or friend who runs, too, and there is an instant common bond between us.
When I read blog posts written by other runners, I can relate to their stories, or share their feelings. I know I am not alone in my experiences and my struggles and my triumphs. Someone else has already felt my aches and pains and is ready to offer advice or just commiserate with me.
I can join in virtual races online, look up a Twitter hashtag #runchat, or drop in to my local running shoe store and instantly connect to other runners.
5. Running gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment
I am not a competitive runner. I run recreationally because I love to sweat and breathe hard and to feel tired and spent from a gruelling physical workout. But I don’t generally compare my times or distances to anyone else’s. And because I don’t, I am always happy with my runs…whatever the distance, or whatever the time, I am thrilled that I have just done it.
What do you love most about running?