Run For Life

Run Forrest Run! For some reason (unknown to me) that line from the famous movie “Forrest Gump” always seems to pop into my head whenever I see people running. It’s just the oddest thing ever.

What is it that propels Forrest to keep running? He’s like the Energizer Bunny who keeps going and going and going . . . until one day he stops. I have to admit that I’m drawn into what may have been his sense of focus and purpose. On the other hand, did he really have a purpose, or was he simply running? Let’s face it; his life was not a bed of sweet-smelling roses, but a life of perseverance. He always seemed to “rise above the occasion” and see the “silver lining.” A good lesson for all of us!

Well, I like to run too. Not just for the sake of running, but in order to maintain and/or improve my health. When I first started in my exercise routine about four months ago, my trainer Brad told me that a good cardio workout would be my new best friend. Boy, was he ever right! He recommend that I get a heart monitor so that I could be sure my heart rate was in the correct target range to maximize my results. Great piece of advice!

So, that’s what I started to do . . . cardio, cardio, cardio (at least five times a week for an hour). I usually change machines a little over the halfway point. I usually start on the treadmill, and then I finish up on the elliptical; that way it breaks up my workout. That was another piece of Brad’s advice as well; break up the routine.

But I always find myself coming back to running. It clears my head; it fatigues my body and yet at the same time gives me an incredible “high!” And although I know running is healthy for me, sometimes I ask the question: what’s so great about running anyways? Well, let’s find out.

According to an article entitled Running 101 posted by about.com, “Running is one of the best activities most people can do to improve their health. Running regularly can help with weight loss, fighting aging and disease, and with generally staying healthy. Running is one of the top activities for burning fat. In fact, with the exception of cross country skiing, running burns more calories per minute than any other form of cardiovascular exercise.”
The article also states that, “Running regularly also has been proven to help fight the aging process. It prevents muscle and bone loss that often occur with age.”
And, “Amazingly running also helps to fight disease. Running reduces the risk of stroke and breast cancer. Regular running has become a treatment option for doctors to prescribe to patients who are at a high risk, or early stages, of osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension. It reduces the risk of heart attacks, by strengthening the heart and lowering blood pressure. Running lowers blood pressure and maintains the elasticity of arteries incredibly well, because as you run your arteries expand and contract nearly three times as much as usual. Running also helps maintain and improve general health. It raises HDL (or "good") cholesterol, reduces the risk of blood clots, and encourages use of the 50% of your lungs that usually go unused. Running also boosts the immune system by creating a higher concentration of lymphocytes (white blood cells that attack disease).”
There you have it; I knew I liked running for a reason! But the great thing is that not only are there physical benefits to running, there’s also psychological benefits too. The same article says that some of those benefits include building confidence and character, stress relief; and of course, how about a much-needed attitude boost!
“Running builds confidence like few other individual sports can. It allows the runner to defeat trial after trial, growing stronger and more sure of themselves with each footstrike. It provides a feeling of empowerment and freedom that comes with knowing that your legs and body are strong and capable. Confidence is even more a product of running for those who lose weight and gain a better self-image through running.”
My favorite words from the article are these: “Running can help train the mind as much as it trains the body. By making yourself overcome the obstacles that running brings, you learn focus and determination. The will and strength that gets your body through long runs or those runs you’d much rather skip is what in turn strengthens your mind and gives you focus and determination in other areas of your life.”
I love it! So, here’s to all you runners out there . . . have a good run. And let’s hope we can all go the distance!
P.S. If you’re in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area the beginning of October, come join Vibrant Life as they host their annual Vibrant Life 5K Fun Run/Walk on Sunday October 5, 2008 at the Review and Herald Publishing Association. Click the link on the homepage for more information and registration details.