To some people, going for a jog seems like torture or punishment. Many average Joes unconsciously think this because when they were younger they were forced to run never-ending sprints across fields or courts for underperforming during a game or practice. It has a negative connotation.
Then there are those who head out to pound the pavement for a few miles just to feel good about themselves to stay in shape. Some of these people are a bit vain and do it for the looks, and others are out there because their doctors prescribed them to get some exercise.
I’m “here” today to talk about the select few that actually enjoy running long distances and without it would be grumpy, depressed, and downright miserable people. Long-distance runners come from every corner of the world, which is evident in the huge presence of Ethiopians and Kenyans in marathon racing today.
On more of a personal note, I got into longer distance running at the beginning of 2010 after I signed up for a 7 mile obstacle course race called Tough Mudder. I had never run 7 miles consecutively in my entire life and it seemed daunting. Nevertheless, I trained up to the distance and completed the event. Subsequently, I have competed in races all the way from a 5k (3.1 miles) up to my most recent 50k (31 miles).
Most serious runners would say there are 2 groups of people when it comes to motivation. One half trains to complete a race or goal and the other half runs purely for the adrenaline of being out on the road or trail. I would say that I’m a mixture of both, because I almost always have the next race or adventure planned out months in advance, but I also find time to enjoy the moment – being outside gliding along effortlessly. Effortless running is a goal for many long-distance runners and some achieve it each time they head out and some only once in a long while. This can be compared to the so-called “runner’s high” people talk about. It’s a sense of euphoria where you feel like you are floating along your path and you could keep going on forever without any aches or pains. This brings me back to the people who can’t live without running. These people are searching for that “high” in their journey.
In terms of physical health, running is an excellent way to stay active for the normal individual. Running longer distances only comes after one has created a base training level to work from. If anyone tries to go run 10 miles after only running 3 miles every other day, they are bound to injure themselves. On the other hand, if done correctly, longer distance running can be a time to reconnect with your surroundings, ponder life questions, and ultimately increase your cardiovascular health.
Another common misconception with running is that it is only a solo sport. This is untrue, except for those who can be seen listening to their iPod entranced like a zombie running down the street. Since running is so accessible, there is an enormous community to connect with practically anywhere you are in the world. Small running clubs and national memberships are a huge part of the running world, and it’s very simple to find a partner in crime to head out for a long weekend training run. I’ve personally found a small trail running group that frequently organizes group runs through the local forests. It’s a great way to find new running routes and people with whom to share my passion. Plus, running 20 or so miles can get a bit boring if you only have yourself to talk to. You can learn a lot about someone after spending 4 or 5 hours with them and maybe even make a new friend!
In terms of the costs associated with long-distance running, race entry fees as well as all the gear we all love to acquire can certainly add up over the years. However, most runners would agree that every penny is well spent. The physical demands on the body are also a pertinent topic for anyone who considers themselves a long-distance runner. Injuries are a given unless you are one of the select few that have dodged every bullet. Younger runners feel invincible and with age they become more mature and take care of their bodies a bit better. There will always be a little hitch or a tweak along the way.
I encourage anyone to explore the world of long-distance running if they are curious as to what they can achieve and where it can bring them. There is a world of runners waiting to welcome you in.