There it is – another picture on Facebook of a person your age standing proudly with a finish line in the background and a medal around their neck. You could do that, but do you want to? Here are 10 reasons why you would want to run:
1. In Nebraska, we have about three days total when it’s not windy and the temperature is between 50-70 degrees – ideal running weather. Still, running gets me outdoors and once I’m on the road or trail, the temperature and wind aren’t that bad. I actually enjoy about every run throughout the year because no run is literally ever the same.
2. Since we farm about 14 miles from town, it isn’t very convenient to join in the barre or Pilates class. Scheduling a running session takes about five minutes – just enough time to put some running shoes on and head out the door. We’ve got miles of running trails (country roads) with very little traffic. My daughters in Baltimore have to drive miles to find a trail.
3. Speaking of daughters, running is a great way to connect with your family members. My four daughters and I like to enter races. Not to race, but to have something to work towards and an excuse to eat out afterwards. We share our runs on a shared mobile running app and encourage each other when a sickness sidelines us for a week, or we’re too busy to get in a run. There’s also nothing like commiserating with your daughter about the hill you both just conquered at the half marathon.
4. Make running an adventure. I balance my runs on our country roads with runs at in towns we visit for weddings or graduations. Packing a pair of shoes is easy and it’s fun to explore streets from the vantage point of a runner. I’ve had the opportunity to run alongside rickshaws in China and had a homeless guy yell at me to run on the sidewalk, not on the street in Kansas City.
5. Running makes you feel good. I eat better during the day because running makes you hungry in a good way. We grow corn and soybeans for farmers to feed their cattle, hogs and fish, providing safe food for runners and non- runners alike. Meat is great runner fuel. One of my favorite t-shirts says “Fueled by a Farmer” on the back. There is nothing like a thick grilled steak and bacon wrapped asparagus after a long run.
6. Speaking of eating, running helps keep the pounds off. It’s not just the extra calories you burn, but also the increased metabolism from running that helps with weight control. I know farmers who are runners. Even though they get exercise during the day climbing in and out of machinery and traipsing across fields and feedlots, running allows them to eat an extra guilt free piece of dessert if they want.
7. Running improves your state of mind. My daughters like to listen to energetic music when they run. I sometimes tune into the “Bruno Mars” channel on Pandora when I’m running or I just run and think, which sometimes a person doesn’t have time for in a day. I’ve returned from a run more stressed only once – when I was chased by a badger. But that was 20 years ago, so I’ve had a lot of calming, stress-free runs.
8. Running keeps your energy up. A lot of it is psychological. At a trail race in Colorado, I won my age group because I was the only one in my age group. I can get really slow if I think about being in my 50s and running alongside a lot of 20 and 30-somethings. Then I see pictures of 70-year-olds running the Boston Marathon and I know that it’s all in my head. A ten mile run is just three 5Ks put together. You feel more energetic throughout the day when you know you can tackle three miles during your noon hour.
9. You’ll sleep better. Even on my non-running days, I sleep well. My body knows it has to. It needs to recover.
10. Last but not least, running gives you a feeling of accomplishment. There’s a runner saying that you’ll only regret the run you don’t go on. It’s true. Whether I slogged through a 12-minute mile run or had to walk the last two miles, I’ve always had a feeling of “I did it” at the end. Even if “I did it” means “I got off the couch for 45 minutes.” We all need a little pat on the back and running provides it every time.