To ask why a runner runs is an age-old question, with no stock answer. The Student Life’s own Brian Gillis explored the issue in an Oct. 15, 2009 article entitled simply “Why do You Run?” But why is it that those who don’t run should lace up a pair of shoes and hit the pavement?
Depending on whom you ask, this answer is sure to vary as well. Ask a runner – a real, competitive runner (whose shorts are so short, they hardly qualify as clothing) – and he or she is bound to say something different from the occasional, recreational jogger. But here it is. The definitive list as to why it might be a good idea to crank out a few laps.
Firstly, running provides multiple benefits. Looking to be healthier and increase blood and oxygen flow to the body? Run. Looking to blow off some steam or get together with some friends? Run. At the very least, running (and it doesn’t even have to be that fast) can give you an excuse to avoid studying for the big upcoming midterm. Meet up with some friends instead, maybe meet some new people, and do something relaxing and mindless for a short period of time each day. According to Morgan Ingemanson PO ’13, running is great, even indoors, because, “it lets [her] hop on a treadmill, watch an episode of [her] favorite TV show or listen to [her] favorite band, and forget for half an hour all the work that’s waiting for [her] back in [her] room.” Not to mention the fact that while you’re laughing your way through the 5C’s, you’ll actually be getting in some beneficial exercise that is shown to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Secondly, have you ever wondered why the track teams, and athletes in general, eat so much? Consider the fact that any exercise burns calories. However, go for a run, and you might end up burning more calories than you expect. According to a Syracuse University study completed in 2004, men burn an average of 124 calories per mile, and women an average of 105. Therefore, just 20 minutes of running can rid you of 300 calories, making you a little healthier each and every day. And if you are one of those people super attached to their calories, feel free to grab another dessert on your way out of the dining hall.
Take that one step further. Run enough, and your body will begin to transform. You’ll notice that sleep comes easier at night, and that you will have increased energy throughout the day. You’ll have less fat, stronger muscles, and better focus. Running teaches the body how to be more efficient, and therefore, energy is used more consistently over longer periods of time, so that it is easier to stay awake, regardless of how tiring philosophy class is. Plus, it’s all about the “progression of the abs,” says Andrew Strait PO ’10. “The more you use your fat reserves to fuel your run, the greater your chances of having abs so nice, the girls start calling you “Mr. Delicious.”
“I’m not going to lie,” says Ingemanson, “the abs you see on runners are phenomenal. I wish mine were that good.”
Competitive runners agree. “I love the feeling of being in shape during the season,” says Luke Willert PO ’13, “And it doesn’t hurt that it helps me develop great abs, and beastly quads.” That said, running holds all the more allure because of the potential recognition. Surely anyone would want to be recognized as a SCIAC champion. Champions had to start somewhere, even if it was just running around the block with a parent when younger.
Willert continued, “Running is all the better when you’re running for a purpose. Me, personally? I started running to give myself something to do after school when I was younger. But now, I like to run to see how far I can push my limits, and what accolades, as a team and an individual, can be acquired. Either way, I love the idea of running and already dread the future when my competitive running career will come to an end. It’s why, now, I encourage more people to come to meets to see the results of all the hard work the guys put in throughout the week, because then maybe they would be inspired to go out, and see what they, themselves, could do.”
And if the appeal of a healthier, better-looking body, improved mental health, and accolades galore isn’t enough, consider the following adage: “Distance runners do it longer.” Need there be any more incentive?