The Daily Sweat: The Vindication of the Rights of the Baby Elephant
I’ve been fascinated lately as I have been doing more “connecting” into the running community as I feel that there seems to be a lack of talk about just running to stay healthy as opposed to obsessional confessions of personal records and all sorts of acronyms that I don’t even know. I’m not slamming these folks (in fact I’m pretty awe-struck and inspired by many of the blogs), but this baby elephant is just a little confused. Maybe it’s that ordinary runners don’t really feel the need to speak out, but if I were a new runner, I think I would be somewhat overwhelmed. But, there are probably blogs out there for new runners that I haven’t found yet (I’m new to this whole blogging thing).
I think my biggest question comes from my study to become a personal trainer where I learned how important it was to focus on balance and overall body health. In my personal experience and in conversations with others I have found that when you are training for a big event, you often lose perspective and simply run instead of doing core and cross-training. This of course leads to injuries, aches and pains, and overall instability. I know how addictive those endorphins are, but they can mask a lot until there it is – you are nearing victory and then bam, your body rebels with a stress fracture or some other injury.
I’ve heard myself and others say things like: but I don’t have time to cross-train – I HAVE to run today because I need to get faster, I want to beat my PR (personal record), keep up with my running partner, etc. etc. In the end we often end up beating ourselves up for either not breaking that personal record, not making the distance, not keeping up with our friends instead of just feeling good about ourselves for getting out there to pound the pavement, or for cross training for overall body health. I think there are folks out there that are just naturally built for running and don’t have to worry about “balance” as much, but us normal folk do.
Many of the people I work with, who like me sit in a chair in front of a computer for at least 9 hours a day, can’t even imagine walking three miles, much less running a marathon. Their perspective of the running community is that they are somehow a special breed (like Kentucky derby winners) who are a little insane. For me these chair-sitters, chained to their desks, are the people I want to talk to about running and exercise in general – how strong it can make you feel, how it lifts your mood, your self image. I want to let them know that running is for the average Joe or Josephine, no matter your size or level of physical fitness.
As many of Americans sit in front of those computers, emotionally eating due to the stress in our lives, seeing exercise as unattainable or only reserved for that special group, the obesity rates in America climb and climb. One of the biggest reasons we are in the financial trouble we are in as a country is because of the rising costs of health care. Although the issue is complicated, one of the things causing that cost increase is how unhealthy we’ve become. I want to let my co-workers and friends, the people I meet randomly, the people that read this blog know it is ok to run like a baby elephant, but if I don’t really believe that or walk the talk, then they won’t believe me.
Don’t get me wrong, I would like to get faster. In my dreams I run like a gazelle as opposed to a baby elephant.
But, I’m ok getting there slowly (or even always being there only in my dreams). I am truly proud to be a baby elephant because my biggest concern is that I’m treating this body well, keeping it tuned for the long haul.
Do you guys know of any great blogs for new runners or exercisers? If so, please leave a comment to direct those out there that are on the brink of making a big change and taking that first step to overall better health. I think one of the best resources I’ve seen is the couch to 5K program (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml) as it talks about how often people try to do too much too fast and get overwhelmed by running and write it off for good. The couch to 5K model takes you there slowly, but effectively (I’ve known several people who started with it – people who NEVR thought they would run – and have finished their first 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons). But I would LOVE to hear about anything else out there that will inspire people intimidated by running, or exercising in general. And for you guys out there that are thinking about taking those first few steps, you can do it. If you have any questions please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.