I also run for other reasons. I'm tired of talking about my depression and anxiety but man, when I run, I just don't feel it at all. That rock in the pit of my stomach just disappears. If I don't feel exactly good, neither do I feel bad. I'm not sure if this is because of the neurochemicals that some say flood your brain during aerobic effort, or if it's because the physical discomfort of the activity is so psychologically grounding or, more likely some combination of both. In either case, I run for relief.
As important as anything else, though, I run as a model for our daughter Lena. Exercise is as close to a panacea as we have today, drastically reducing our risk for a variety of diseases such as cancer and cardio-vascular disease, as well as diabetes and kidney disease. Reasearch is also showing that the single most important thing we can do to delay age-related dementia is exercise. I have also read recently that a number of school districts across North America have been experimenting with mandatory cardio workouts during school hours. Evidence indicates very significant positive impacts on academic performance. I want all of those things for our little girl and I hope that by her seeing me workout she'll want to as well.
Some other little snippets about my running regimen:
- Even when I was running in my youth, I suffered from crippling shin pain. This past summer I read about a running technique that is variously called Skill-Based Running, the Starrett Method or Chi Running. I experimented with it and overnight my shin pain disappeared and I have been running fairly injury free since. I encourage anyone who suffers to look into this. I'm not one to fall for gimmicks and indeed the academic literature on the approach is, at best, inconclusive and at worst shows no benefit from the approach, but for me it works (though inexplicably I have been suffering from some leg pain this past week)
- for the past couple of years I have suffered egregiously from insomnia. Exercise is supposed to help but it really hasn't for me. However, this past summer, rather than tossing and turning all night or, maybe worse, surrendering to the wasteland that is late night television, I have gotten up to run anywhere from 2:00 to 5:00 in the morning. This is a great time to do it. The air is cool, the neighbourhood is quiet and there is almost no traffic and you get see all kinds of nocturnal wildlife (raccoons, skunks, and a lot of rabbits for some reason). I almost always finished my 8K without stopping. My daytime runs are much less successful. I finish maybe a quarter of my runs without interruption.