So I’m sitting here right now in a house that isn’t my own (I’m dog sitting), writing this article, alone except for the presence of a renovation crew that’s hammering away in the kitchen (they don’t really speak English so communication has been a blast so far). Most would find this to be a stressful situation.
How does this tie into running? One of the reasons people run is because it’s a great stress reliever. The above anecdote therefore has some extra significance, because there’s nothing I’d rather do right now than get on a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement.
In the two years I’ve been a runner, I’ve come to understand that there’s far more to this underrated sport than meets the eye. What are some attributes of regular runners, you ask?
1. They are usually happier.
Once you get past the first few weeks of feeling like your legs want to rip themselves off, running becomes less of a chore and more of necessity. Eventually you’ll recover from your runs overnight, and it’s at that point that you’ll want to it everyday in order to deal with any excess stress.
2. They spark spontaneous friendships with other runners.
I met one of my best friends while out on a run, basically on a whim. I knew her previously but it was the fact that we both loved running that brought us together in a more permanent fashion. From then on we went on lots of runs together, and we’ve been workout buddies ever since. You too can befriend one of us crazy runners; all you have to do is find a pair of decent shoes…
3. They are more determined.
Ever since I started running, I started to get a better sense of my physical limits. And I found, for the most part, that I don’t really have any when I put my mind to it. I’m not saying I can run a marathon every day, but I know that I can do a lot more than I assume I can do. This gives you greater confidence not only when running, but when reading a book, studying for a test, etc. Back in college I would often have little four hour writing sessions where I’d knock out entire ten page essays, usually in one go. I would not have been able to do that had running not pushed me beyond my self-imposed limits and taught me that I had a lot more to give than I thought.
4. They can eat whatever they want (in moderation).
For the record, I’m not suggesting you go out and eat ten thousand calories after every run. Despite the fact that running is one of the best calorie burning exercises around, it still only gets rid of about 800 calories an hour (depending on multiple factors of course). You aren’t Michael Phelps, in other words. What you can do, however, is cut yourself some slack when it comes to your meals (compared to the average person), since you’ll need those calories to fuel your hobby anyways.
5. They get to change out their wardrobe a lot.
Before I started running I was about twenty pounds heavier than I am now. I mean, I was pretty light for my height then, but the running streamlined me. This meant that I had to buy new jeans and shirts every few months, since I kept shrinking. For those who like buying clothes, this could be a good motivator for you. Also, you’ll always be in the market for running clothes, especially those of the neon variety.
6. They are always seeking cool new shoes.
Now, you don’t want to change your running shoes too often, but I won’t deny that choosing your next pair is often an exciting activity in itself. Usually, a decent amount of research and testing goes into it since you’ll likely be using them for around six months, at the least (mine have lasted about a year on average). It also matters how they look too, so that will be a factor in your decision. I don’t know if this is just me, but I’ve always enjoyed looking for my next pair of running shoes and measuring the pros and cons of a variety of them.
7. They are always weighing whether or not it’s worth it to bring water on a run.
In the beginning, I always brought a water bottle with me on my runs. Now I only do it when it’s either extremely hot, or I’m planning on doing something crazy like go for a personal record. You’ll probably end up doing something similar, because what you’ll often find is that lugging around a water bottle hurts more than it helps; plus, there are usually public water fountains everywhere.
8. They run faster and longer when being watched.
Don’t lie, fellow runners, you like it when people are watching you run. You get to show off your svelte exterior and pretend that they are a bemused audience witnessing your grand feat of endurance. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I always get something of a second wind when I see a fellow runner on a route. I get especially giddy when they nod their head towards me, which is something like an acknowledgement that “hey, you’re also in the cool kid’s running club!”
9. They secretly laugh at non-runners who think two miles is a lot.
Back in my earlier days as a runner, but long after I had gotten my legs under me, I would get asked how I had lost so much weight. My answer would be that I ran around two miles every other day. They would usually gasp, imagining it to be some painful odyssey I was undertaking. I would humor their response, usually, but afterwards I’d chuckle to myself. Any runner out there knows that two miles every other day is pretty weak, and once you start running you’ll probably laugh at it too. That being said, that “easy” workout will still allow you to become far more in shape than you are now.
10. They all prefer running in the morning, but it usually doesn’t happen.
I have this fantasy in my head where I wake up every morning at 5:30AM in order to capture the morning cold and start my day off with a brisk run. Usually, this doesn’t happen, and I applaud those runners who have the mental fortitude to do this every day. I know I said that running makes you more determined, but getting out of bed is one of the things that isn’t affected by that sadly.
11. They love taking cold showers.
I never took a cold shower until I was a runner. I happen to live in an incredibly hot valley, and so when I run here I’m usually extremely overheated (hence why I fantasize about running at 5:30AM). By the end, I’m literally craving a cold shower. In fact, the icier the better. Usually I’ll just stand there, arctic water chilling my skull, for several minutes. The good news is that, if you ever lose your hot water in the future, you’ll be used to the alternative!
12. They use running to enhance their brain’s capabilities.
Studies have shown that running improves your memory. It goes beyond that, though. In college I used to go on runs whenever I was jumbling multiple papers, projects, and other responsibilities, both to deal with the stress and figure out a way to handle it all. While running, you usually enter this phase where you’ll be able to think more clearly (what is usually known as “runner’s high”), and it’s here that you’ll be able to calmly and rationally put your crazy life in order. I’ve also found that going on a run after a big study session helps you retain what you’ve learned, much like sleeping does.
13. They rely on runs as a way to boost their energy.
Once you pass a certain threshold, running begins to boost your energy rather than drain it. If you don’t believe me, read this. Runners run to give themselves the lift they need to get through their day; they don’t do it to tire themselves out!
14. They sleep better at night.
Running won’t induce narcolepsy during the day, but it will help you sleep better at night. All of that nervous energy that keeps you up will have been spent.
15. They have better stamina than you.
I once went on a hike with my crazy active Uncle (“once” meaning a month and a half ago). It was a difficult hike, mostly uphill, slippery, and possibly laced with Deer ticks. Anyways, my Uncle (who hadn’t seen me since before I started running), was astonished that I pretty handily beat him up the endless trail. Moral of the story: don’t underestimate a runner’s stamina! We’ll beat most normal folks with ease…
16. They don’t suffer from as much acne.
I used to have terrible acne, but nowadays it’s pretty much kept in check both by a plethora of powerful creams and…running! Just be aware that while running unclogs your pores, you’ll need to wash your face afterwards or all that dirt will just seep back in.
17. They will outlive you.
Unsurprisingly, runners suffer from both fewer diseases and potentially death-causing incidents like heart attacks as they get older. You probably already knew this though, it’s basically common sense.
18. They don’t have to avoid carbs; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Silly diets won’t help you lose weight, only a decent workout plan and a balanced intake of calories will. As a runner, carb intake is far from discouraged, in fact, it’s encouraged. If you see a skinny person wolfing down a giant bowl of pasta at night, chances are they’re going for a run in the morning. Take that Atkins!
19. They don’t need a gym to get their workout.
In college, I always laughed when friends would say stuff like “oh the gym’s closed, guess I won’t be working out today.” Silly person! The world is your gym! Well, at least if you’re a runner, or are emulating the montage from Rocky IV. You don’t need a treadmill to burn that fat away.
20. They take far too much time creating running playlists.
This is always a struggle. Do I add “Eye of the Tiger” to the middle of the playlist, so that it will play when I’m really starting to feel strained, or at the end to provide one final boost? This is more of a difficult choice than you’d think.
21. They have an excuses to wear spandex.
Unlike all of those girls who wear yoga pants to look good, we wear spandex out of necessity. You know, because, uh, aerodynamics! Right…?
22. They are aware of every running route in their hometown.
If you’re a runner you probably use an app on your smartphone to both check your progress and seek out new routes to run. Or if it’s not an app, you look online. Or on a map. Whatever works. Either way, if you know a runner, chances are they know all of the cool little secret paths you can run on in your town.
23. They want you to join in.
Runners love nothing more than to see other people out there working up a sweat with them. It’s encouraging, and makes what is usually a solitary experience less lonely. Plus, you can encourage each other! So, do me and yourself a favor…get out there!
Featured photo credit: Out Running/ Mark Stevens via flickr.com