"I hate running, I don't know why you do it. What's so good about it?"
That's a statement I get from people every so often when we get onto the subject of exercise and I mention that I run regularly (I also get the same reaction from people when I mention that I love spin classes).
Of course, like with most things in life, running isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's hard to say exactly what is good about it because it depends on each person's preference.
Some people absolutely love running and would recommend that everyone does it, whilst others really hate it and steer well clear.
I personally used to hate it. I hated cross country at school, I hated running around on sports days and I never willingly went and ran around my home town or the nearby countryside just for fun.
I mean, I didn't hate myself, why would I cause myself unnecessary pain and suffering by running outside on a cold spring morning when I could instead be in my nice warm bed?
What made me change my mind about it?
Running - Image from freedigitalphotos.net
It wasn't until my final year of university in 2009 when I decided that I wanted to lose some weight and get fitter that I entertained the idea of running. I decided I wanted to run a 5K race at some point in the future.
This was a goal which I didn't take very seriously for a few years and it wasn't until 2011 that I actually ran the Race for Life charity race.
I didn't manage to run non-stop the whole way and it took me ages to complete but as soon as I had finished the race I wanted to do it again.
Three years later and I have run a women's 10K in London and am now planning to run a half marathon in February 2015. I would have totally dismissed this a few years ago if you had told me this is what I would enjoy doing in my spare time.
Since that initial (and painfully slow) 5K, I've somehow convinced myself that I actually want to run a marathon one day. A marathon, I'm not exactly sure what happened there.
I guess somewhere between running that first 5K, getting fitter and losing weight, I realised I actually could run the whole way without stopping.
Better yet, I realised that I could run much faster much further than I initially gave myself credit for and it was a nice confidence boost.
Long story short, running gave me a sense of freedom and accomplishment and I fell in love with it. There really is such a thing as a runner's high and it really does take the edge off a bad day at work.
For me, running is good for the soul. It makes you feel free and calm and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Running proves to you how strong you are and demonstrates just how far you've come since you started, whether that be a quick morning run that makes you feel ready and productive for work or a distance run which tests your stamina and willpower.
The thinking time that running provides me with is some of my most valuable and productive. I have no distractions.
I usually end up coming up with solutions to my problems when I spend this time clearing my head and have the uninterrupted time to put everything into perspective.
Obviously many people do it for the health benefits too. I'm not really qualified to judge which are proven to work/be the best but weight loss is one of them if combined with the correct nutrition.
Try it yourself
There are great ways to get involved in running and not all of those involve just putting on your trainers and running around Phoebe-from-Friends-style in your local park. Although that isn't a half bad idea and sounds kind of fun.
Parkrun event - Image from parkrun.com.au
Parkrun is a good way to get started and now has many runs in cities all over the world. There is probably one in a park near you every Saturday.
Grab your trainers and get outside - Image from freedigitalphotos.net
Local running clubs are also a fun and friendly way to take that step and not have to brave the streets and parks alone. Most meet a few times a week and cost one or two pounds per session.
Race for Life events and other similar charity 'fun' runs. These aren't very intimidating and as most of them are for charity it is a good way to motivate yourself to go running and raise money.
Just get out there and have fun. Even if you don't run very far or very fast, you'll still be further along than you would be if you stayed at home.