Running doesn’t have to hurt |

Running doesn’t have to hurt

Charlie Lincoln

Last week, a friend of mine who is very athletic and exercises regularly told me that he hates to run. When I asked him why, he said that he did not like the feeling of being out of breath or anaerobic.

As it turned out, whenever he thought about running, it reminded him of the pain he felt doing wind sprints in high school. I could relate because when I was 12, my football coach used running laps and doing wind sprints as punishment for just about every conceivable form of error. Granted, running made me stronger, but the format that was used did not make me appreciate or enjoy it. For my friend, it made him associate running with pain and ultimately it made him avoid running. In the news, we continually hear that our youths are overweight and not as physically active as they should be and it is no wonder, when our schools use physical activity – especially running – as a form of punishment. Running should always be encouraged as a lifelong activity for children and adults.

My advice to my friend was to relearn what running is all about. Running is not just about being out of breath, pain, or punishment. It can be a source of joy, of accomplishment and fun. Start slowly, be patient, and let running for fun become a part of your life. Several of the benefits associated with running are listed below.

Running is the most efficient path to cardiovascular fitness. There are a variety of ways to get fit: walking, swimming, cycling, aerobic dancing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing – and even indoor fitness machines like Nordic Trak. But running will yield an excellent level of fitness in the shortest possible time. Thirty minutes a day, three days a week, is all you need while other aerobic activities may take twice as long, especially when you must add driving time.

Running is the most accessible of all aerobic activities. No matter how busy you think you are, there is always time for a run. Put on your shoes, step out the door and in the amount of time it normally takes to watch the local news, you can become fit. Improved cardiovascular fitness has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, and it will improve your overall disposition, prolong your life, and increase the quality of living.

No matter where you are in the world, you can always find a place to run. I have run through the streets of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, along the river in Houston, and around the bay in San Francisco. When I travel, my running shoes always accompany me, and not only do I stay fit, but I learn more about the areas I am visiting.

Running is inexpensive and lessons are not required. Good shoes are all you need to start running and most of us already know how. Unlike swimming or cycling, runners will never be discouraged by lack of the proper equipment or the necessary skills.

Running is the best method of stress reduction available. Thirty minutes of running will do wonders for reducing the effects of a stressful day. It will clear your mind and allow you to feel good about yourself.

Running is an excellent way to burn calories and reduce fat. When combined with a proper nutritional program, running will burn calories and motivate you to keep excess weight off. A long, slow run of 40 minutes or more is one of the best methods of reducing stored fat from your body.

Running makes you feel good. With any new exercise program, it takes a certain amount of time for your body to adjust to the increased demands placed upon it. The initial phase of training can be painful if you try to do too much at once. Slow down and let your body adapt, and as the initial shock to your system wears off, running will become enjoyable. You will even start to welcome the feelings associated with running as well as the sense of accomplishment after a successful run.

Runners make great company. Today, millions of people are already running – including three of our past four presidents – and there are running clubs in almost every community in the country. We have the Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club and there are the Silver State Striders in Reno and the Buffalo Chips in Sacramento. Everywhere you travel, there are clubs that have a weekly running schedule that you can participate in. Call 542-6296 for the local run schedule.

Hopefully, these benefits are more than enough to encourage you to start a running program. Remember to have fun and enjoy the journey.

If you have questions about training, nutrition, shoes or anything else to do with running or fitness, call me at 577-5073 or write to me care of this paper. For those runners on-line, my e-mail address is

Run long and keep smiling!

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