Recently, on one of our visits to our granddaughters, the elder of the two, four year old Rose, invited me to go run outside with her. She explained that she has to run to get fit like her mom and dad. A few laps into the run (around the mulberry tree), she suddenly gave a loud sigh and exclaimed, "Nana, this is so boring, What can we do to make it less boring?" So we started singing.
Since this is Rose's birthday month I thought we could have a look at the sport of running. The myths and facts about running, the history of running, the science of running and the strange attraction of running. Why would we, as sane and logical people, want to do that to our bodies? There has to be some explanation as in South Africa alone there are over a hundred thousand registered runners and in the UK it is estimated that there are over two million runners!
I myself have been fascinated by running from a very young age. The first time I saw children running in one direction around an oval, I watched in wonder. I wanted to do it too, but was too shy to try it. Eventually, when I was 8 years old I gathered some courage and entered a track item, but I had hardly covered the first two hundred meters when I got such a terrible pain in my heel that I limped off the field. I tried it a few times more, but every time with the same result. My parents took me to the doctor, but there was no answer to the problem and I conceded that there were obviously some people meant to do it and others were meant to watch. And watch I did, and cheered.
Strangely, I was never fascinated by any other sport. Rugby and Netball or even Hockey held no charm for me.
I was never a sporty child, but I could spend hours on my bicycle and when an ice rink opened up in our town, I basically lived on the ice. Later I turned to Karate and loved doing Ballet as well. In 1987 I watched the Comrades Marathon for the first time on television and I was absolutely hooked. I sat the entire race nailed to the screen and no one dared interrupt me. That year I decided to try again to run. I got myself a pair of running shoes and set out diligently every afternoon. Or tried to. After running two kilometers flat out, I returned home utterly despondent. However, the next day I tried again and a few more days after that. Finally, after a week of running, and it becoming more and more difficult instead of easier, I decided that it was just as I had feared. Some people were meant to be athletes while others were meant to be spectators and supporters. I was obviously meant to be the latter and that was what I did. When my brother started running a couple of years later, I was an avid supporter and would be there to cheer him on as he did his finishing sprint. I also continued to watch the Comrades Marathon every year from sunrise to sunset. I buried my secret dream in my heart.
So why do people run? Well, Forest Gump's reason for running was "I just felt like running". One of the reasons why people start to run is weight loss. Running burns quite a decent amount of calories and it is easy, as well as cheap to start. Some people claim that it helps them to get rid of work stress and gives them a feeling of freedom.
For many people the element of competition is a wonderful incentive. Joining a running club has the added benefit of meeting new, like minded people. Runners are usually a friendly bunch and are always eager to welcome new members into their group.
Running is a great way to boost your over-all well-being and improve your health. It is known to help lower blood pressure as well as the risk of contracting diabetes. Taking a jog out in the fresh open air does wonders for a person's mood and reduces feelings of depression.
Clearly there is much to be said about the benefits of running. Are you a runner? Or have considered taking it up as a sport or pastime? Please tell me more and watch this blog for more running related stuff during the month of April.
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