A thought I heard about 20 years ago from a Chinese kung-fu si-fu (teacher) who came to visit my friend. He was a first “master” or coach in general who said this. He was convinced that human beings were made to walk and that is the most natural and healthy movement. He joked that only animals run and that kung-fu masters are no animals. Well that was obviously a joke, nevertheless this si-fu was 70+ years old. Ok – to be fair – everyone exercising all their life would be in a good shape and can afford such philosophical approach.
I started running some time ago – around 2015 but on regular basis in 2019. Out of necessity. Needless to say I am not a fan and usually this thought pops into my mind, that God does not want me to run. It is painful, every time. It is hard to make myself go, every time. I look like general Glenn McMahon*, every time. It costs time, every time. … So why do I personally do it and how did I get there?
As prompted in the first paragraph, any cardio is beneficial for human body. Period. That includes running as well, plus running has one huge benefit, you don’t need much to get out there and do it. Usually you need some gear or membership or something, for running all you have to do is take a pair of trainers which you probably have and try it out. Even though I prompted that it can get time consuming – on the other hand you can do it whenever you want… day, night, lunchtime, no opening hours, no waiting, etc. So right off the bat we have three practical points to consider:
- stay in shape
- low cost (at the start)
- time flexibility
I started late and at the beginning it was few kilometers, over the years I managed to push myself to get from 2 kilometers to about 5 – 10 kilometers per run, which is not that much in general, but for me it’s great. I have to admit that the 10 hurt the same as the 2 at the beginning, it did not get better but I decided that the benefits outweigh the cons associated with it. The thing that still keeps me going is that every time I finish my run, I feel great… I feel great because:
- I overcame laziness and got out there.
- I managed to finish my run one step at a time.
- I overcame some sort of physical discomfort.
Basically every time it is a small victory and as an added bonus it is some sort of “my time”, refreshing my brain by thinking or not thinking, listening to music or audiobooks, just trying to sweat out whatever is bugging me or planning great stuff ahead of me. Those are the benefits and small victories I get from running despite me being a more “book and wine” type of guy.
On the scientific side of things there are numerous studies arguing that running is extremely beneficial not only for your body but for your mind as well. For example a study by Hopkins suggests that running has antidepressive effects as well as stimulates hippocampus which is the part of brain helping us with memory and learning. Study out of U of Calgary suggests that new runners of all ages should experience at least some improvements after picking-up weekly regular exercise. I am sure if you need scientific proof or hypothesis on the benefits – you can Google-up “is running good for your brain” and see what pops out.
I hope that the people thinking about running and feeling uncertain because they feel they will perform poorly (by their standards). Or basically having any doubts, don’t worry about it. You can run a mile, look like Glenn McMahon, and still feel great, at the end it’s worth it. Si-fu might have been right about God not wanting people to run, but he sure doesn’t mind.
* A character played by Brad Pitt in Netflix’s movie War Machine, who had a very specific running mode.