I have never been much of a runner and to be honest it doesn’t really interested me. But I though it would be nice to hear a runners perspective and to ask the question. Why run?
So let me introduce you to my good friend Mr Mark Horner a pivotal member of the Claremont Road Running club Newcastle upon Tyne and here his perspective.
Running is something most people avoid at all costs, the thought of being exposed to the elements whilst gasping for breath as you casually lean against the nearby lamppost is something that put the fear of god into us. So what is it that makes a runner want to become a runner?
5 years ago on a moderately warm Sunday afternoon I was in a local park revising for a exam, I remember being continually interrupted by passers-by, I received countless “hellos” and “pleasant day isn’t it” proving we don’t live in a society full of socially inept feckless individuals. What appeared odd at the time was that all these pleasant sunday afternoon strollers were in fact runners; you know the type, extremely short-shorts accompanied by the Asics gels-inserted super trainers. There was something rather pleasant about the way these people casually acknowledge each and every person that crosses their path (much like country folk). With the books now firmly closed, my thoughts were somewhat redirected, the question I repeatedly asked myself was, what makes a runner or any fitness enthusiast for that matter adopt a healthy lifestyle? What makes someone become so dedicated to a particular fitness discipline?
I remember a time before my engineering career started when I made a living working at a local fitness centre with some very interesting and influential people, some of which I still hold in high regard; however, there was one girl who in my opinion was and is qualified way above the required level for the position she held as an instructor, I often questioned her motives for why she should want such a mediocre job role, the response was quite simple, she was an under-grad in Sports, Health and Exercise. It is only now I understand that gaining practical experience is as important as the qualification itself.
At this point you are probably wondering where this story is heading but bare with me it does have a point.
For those who are familiar with a degree programme will know that a dissertation makes up a large percentage of the final year marks, much thought and effect must be put into the project to gain a respectable final degree grade one would hope something like a 2:1 or even a 1st.
One Saturday morning my fellow fitness consultant presented a rather large pile of questionnaires, the findings of which would make up analytical data necessary to draw a conclusion for her dissertation. The study in question was; does exercise promote mental as well as physical well being? The study was obviously more complex than a simple question but I’m sure you get the picture.
If my memory serves me right, I believe the finding supported the theory that those who took part in some exercise programme experienced some form of mood elevation post workout, looking back I’m unsure how accurate this data was, as I remember filling in so many myself that I got to know the questions off-by-heart, but these things help pass the day.
So, is it the achievement of doing something that makes us feel fulfilled? In my opinion no, some of us turn to religion to fill gaps in our lives, some become life-long learners as students, whist others are content with their jobs and family life (I hear marriage and children take up a lot of time).
There is one other factor that needs consideration here, most of us, me included, strive to succeed in something; this is particularly true for those who under achieve in their early years. Sport (exercise) is an ideal and suitable outlet to present personal talent, it gives us a platform to compete and challenge against other who feel they are adequately equipped to step up to the plate. Recently I have experienced this first hand in a run which is local to the North East of England; the Blaydon Race is a 5.9Mile circuit which is demanding in parts, however, the spectators offer their support by clapping and cheering whilst singing local folk songs, it a grand day and a real treat
4 years ago I decided that I’ll give this running thing a go, I can honestly say I walked most of the 1 mile circuit I had set out in my head. During this first attempt I remember thinking “what the hell do people do this for” it’s never a good thing when you question yourself about these things. Not being a kind of person who gives up easily, I decided to continue jogging at a pace I felt was comfortable for my standard of running, slowly my lung capacity and distanced gradually increased, thus not needing to stop as regular.
5 years later I’m still running, by no means am I capable of running the London marathon, that takes a special kind of person. I have become one of those people who repeatedly say “hi”, “pleasant day isn’t it”. My recent attempt at the Blaydon Race on the 9th of June 2011 proved to me that running races bring together like minded people, do I enjoy the competition? You bet I do!
I honestly do think exercise makes you feel better, I think the physically demanding aspects of the sport or regime gives a sense of achievement, pushing the human body past the mental limits we assign ourselves gives a new prospective to what can be achieve. By the end of 2011 I will have taken part (hopefully completed) a further 8 competitive races including The Great North Run, The Edinburgh 10K, the Tynedale 10K, to name but a few and hopefully become a member of Claremont Road Running based in Northumbria University.
Looking back from the time I first noticed the casual joggers in the Waterside Park situated in Gateshead, I now understand that running gives people a chance to reflect on their daily lives, it gives us time away from the demands of lives, it offer peace and relaxation from the pressures of our family and friends as well as creating a community. Running is and always will be a huge part of my life for all of the reason stated above. If I can give a small piece of advice to anyone wanting to lose weight, or feel they need to do a little exercise with some extremely pleasant individuals, consider running, the distance or pace isn’t relevant, nor is age. So pop those Asics on, flash those legs, and don’t forget to say “PLEASANT DAY ISNT IT”