Is Running Relevant?

Amid the tragedy of a pandemic and its terrible economic fallout, it seems almost irresponsible to be writing about running. Whether you call it a hobby, a sport or an obsession, aren’t there more important things to have on the mind right now than going out for a run?

Of course there are, but the world is not an either/or kind of place. For all but the most deeply central (health care workers, first responders, home care workers and others; thank you one and all!) it’s possible to give adequate attention to the crises and still carve out a little time for other things as well.

Plus: our limited, tentative, developing knowledge of Covid 19 suggests that it, like so many diseases, hits hardest those who are already unwell. And while some folks cannot avoid the conditions that put them at risk, there are many who have the potential to improve their health and so become less vulnerable. Regular exercise is a strong component of getting and staying healthy, which in turn allows help to be focused on those who need it the most.

If that is not enough justification to keep the conversation going, here’s another twist. Before running yesterday I was studying a problem on which my architect colleagues had asked for help. Looking at the drawings and questions I could readily see the challenges, but the solutions I was thinking of were predictable, and not really an improvement. A little later though, chugging up a steep grade with the sweat pouring out of every pore and the sound of my own breathing drowning out the playlist in my ears, something else popped into the old noggin. ‘Change this wood frame to steel, hide the frame up on top of the panels, assemble it on the shop floor and use the exposed spots of the steel frame to attach suspending rods, and bingo, Bob’s your uncle!’

Now I was a student once (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…), and I know that ideas which look great in the dim din of a tavern or the heated atmosphere of an all-night buzz-session are rarely as attractive in the light of day, but over the years I’ve found that mid-run ideas have a much higher survival rate. This particular endorphin-powered light bulb was just as illuminating when I got back to my desk and drew it up, and when I talked it over with a colleague via Zoom, as it had been when it mushroomed up out of a 5-step running cadence. So….

  • a moderate fitness habit can help you stay healthy and less vulnerable to even a predator like Covid 19.
  • It can also help to keep the bad events in perspective, strengthen the spirit and allow optimism to thrive – a healthy mind is a more-effective mind.
  • Repetitive motion activities can free creative regions of the brain to do their best work, which can result in useful ideas, in whatever field one endeavors.
  • Running is one of the simplest, most accessible (we’re talking moderation after all, not Olympic Trials) ways to achieve all those benefits.
  • It’s good for you, it’s not bad for the environment, and it might just lead to a good idea every now and then.

Conclusion?  Even today, running is worth thinking about, talking about and doing.

Go for it!

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