The Case For Running

Can I get something off my chest?

I AM SICK AND FREAKING TIRED OF PEOPLE POO-POOING RUNNING!

What is more natural than putting two feet in front of you and running? It’s the only thing we, as humans, do (besides walking) that our bodies just DO.

Why does it threaten so many people that we “just run”? Forget that most of us do considerably more than “just running”.

I “just run”…and do yoga.

I “just run”…and spin.

I “just run”…and hit the gym.

Oh yeah, we’re “just runners” alright. None of us do anything else. (snort)

Forget about how much we all love to “just run”. Forget that we have checked a box on our Bucket List Lifetime Goals by “just running” a race of some distance. No, no, please. Keep belittling me if that makes you feel better.

But why do you do it? Because you can’t fathom running a marathon yourself? Because your body hurts when you run? Because you had a bad experience running in gym class? Because you can’t run a mile? Because you want to feel superior to other athletes?

Right. Keep on putting down my sport to validate yours. Whatever.

(Image courtesy of NIKE)

Let’s look at the science, shall we? A 21 year-long study of 1,000 healthy (non-arthritic) runners and non-runners done by Stanford University showed no difference between the knee joints of the two groups. Additionally, the study showed NO DIFFERENCE in the joints of people who ran 200 miles a year and people who ran 2,000 miles a year.

Ta-da!

But let’s not fight. It really comes down to this for me: recently, someone asked me what I got out of running. I smiled and nearly cried.

Did you ever see someone so happy to have just finished a run? I was so proud of Rosebud on her 1st run!

You see, aside from remaining at a healthy weight all my life, maintaining excellent resting heart rate and low blood pressure, having stellar bone density, and being generally more fit than the majority of the population, the benefits of running are more unseen than seen.

I have solid self-esteem, which is hard to come by as a woman at any age. As a young person, I avoided many of the pitfalls of body dysmorphic disorder by running and staying active. I was a runner long before it was “cool” to run.

I am proud of the way that my body looks but even more so by the way it performs. 22 years. No (serious or overuse) injuries. 10 marathons. Not one DNF.

It’s something I can always come back to, no matter what. One very major surgery. Minus one major organ. And a marathon 5 months later that I will finish.

Me & Rosebud. In it to win it. Well, maybe not WIN but, you know, finish 🙂

Through the death of friends in high school and family as we got older, I ran through the heartache. Through JB’s year-long deployment to Iraq and the bitter battle with cancer that too many of my family members have fought, I ran to find the strength to carry on. Through my own illness, the nightmare of being sick and disabled and having no control over my body, I ran to feel hope for the future.

Of all the things running has taught me, the most important lesson I have learned that I carry in my heart day after day is this:

If I just keep going, I will get to the finish line eventually.

So, yeah. Running is my sport.

Now go out and run!

What It Means To Run Stronger Every Day

At the end of a marathon, I am not running fast. To be honest, the only marathon I think I finished “fast” (8:20s) was my worst marathon ever in Jersey where I walked/jogged from POJ to POJ from  miles 13-20 because of my UC flare-up. I had lots of rest and pounded out those last six miles like they were nothing.

Mile 25. Pretty sure I was the only person smiling as I ran past this photographer.

Running fast is not necessarily running strong. I have fast runs that are the easiest runs of my life where I am cruising along and could go on forever. That’s not what it feels like to run strong. So what does it mean to Run Stronger Every Day?

To me, it means that I run when I don’t feel like it. I run when it’s snowing outside (remember that day, Fat Bottom Slim?!) or 85°F with 97% humidity in August. I run when my legs feel like lead. I run when all I really want to be doing is eating homemade cookie dough. I run up the hard hills. I run harder when I think I’ve reached my limit. I run on the treadmill when my stomach won’t let me be more than 15 feet from the bathroom. I finish my runs when I really want to sit down on the curb and cry.

I run.

I Run Stronger Every Day.

No matter what, I run. I train. I lace up my shoes and give it my all for that day. I don’t compare my times with my times from 5 years ago. I don’t always wear my GPS watch to obsess about my splits. I run how I feel.

Dear Garmin,
I love you but you are a sometimes running friend. No hard feelings?
Love, Abby

Running Stronger Every Day means that I take stock of how I feel that day, what my body will tolerate that day, what my limits are that day, how hard I can push that day, and I run.

If it’s 2 miles before I go and lift, it’s 2 miles. If it’s 10 miles on the treadmill while I watch Bones, it’s 10 miles. If it’s 7 miles in Central Park, it’s 7 miles. If it’s nothing because my body just won’t allow it that day, then it’s a rest and recover day. But whatever it is, I make it my job to Run Stronger Every Day and live my life so that I CAN Run Stronger Every Day.

In a few short weeks, I will be starting from a different place and really learning what it is to Run Stronger Every Day. I will be challenged like I’ve never been challenged before. I will have to listen, take it slowly, start from scratch and re-learn what my body can do. I will be the comeback story of my lifetime. And everything I do will be in an effort to Run Stronger Every Day.

Yes! I Run Strong! And am a very sweaty beast. But I Run Strong!

How do you Run Stronger Every Day? What does it mean to YOU? I want to know.

Now go out and run!