Monday, May 23, 2011

Running isn't just for exercise!

In the past month I have done a decent amount of traveling for work (to good ole’ Oklahoma City and Chi Town!!) and my FAVORITE way to sight see is to RUN. Each morning I was in Chicago I woke up at 5am and ran downtown (through the Theater District) to the famous Chicago Bean in the Millennium Park and finally along the water’s edge of the Lake Michigan. If you know me, you know that water and sunrises/sunsets are my absolute favorite things in the world…so needless to say that running along the water at sunset was my idea of heaven. And I am a firm supporter of running as a means to see the town you are visiting. You are able to quickly scan the streets and (make sure to bring your camera!) take wonderful pictures of all the beautiful sights along the way. I think that running is also the greatest way to navigate an area, like some place that you’ve just moved to. And you don’t have to be a runner…walking or biking give the same wonderful benefits and touristy perks :)

Running (walking or jogging) is also a great way to have fun, make friends, and obviously be active. This past weekend my boyfriend and I participated in the Warrior Dash obstacle race in Maryland. It was AH-MAZING! And coming from a background of road races all across this area, my biggest surprise was the span of participants. There were young kids, older adults, obvious competitive runners, obvious couch potatoes, and everyone in between. And every single person had a huge smile on their face. This race provided a healthy (minus the beer and turkey legs sold post-race!) and, most importantly, FUN way to get outside and get active with others. I think that because there was such a wide range of individuals participating with all different skill levels in trail running/athletics, many people felt very comfortable getting out there and giving it their best and having FUN with it. My hope is that those individuals, that may have normally been scared of signing up for a race in fear of failure or embarrassment, will be inspired by this experience to continue being active and continue participating in local races. We also noticed that a lot of the participants were in teams and looked as though this wasn’t their first time racing in the Warrior Dash…these people were dressed up from head to toe in some crazy costumes and were VERY team motivated. This, too, was a great thing to see (as a public health professional and fitness enthusiast) because it’s a perfect example of using activity as a means of being SOCIAL and having FUN and building relationships and confidence!! Well done, Warrior Dash, well done!

Now what can you do? Grab a friend or a pet. Go outside (no excuses, cause its GORGEOUS out!). Run, walk, bike, jog, skip, dance, do whatever! And make it fun.

On a side note (and tying back into my “sober blog” theme), we noticed that many races really pride themselves in offering free beer after the race. Most of the races I participate in provide “free beer” tickets for everyone…and the Warrior Dash sold huge (probably 32 oz) mugs of beer and I feel like a lot of people were there to support their friends and get drunk. From a sober/health standpoint I do think this is sort of unfortunate…that we need to promote free drinks to get people to do things…but from a realistic standpoint, I understand the appeal. And unfortunately, the more that races promote free beer, the more other races will start doing it to be competitive and appealing. Like I said…I get it, but I wish it wasn’t the way. The idea behind a “healthy lifestyle” is that one healthy action leads to another…eating a good breakfast will inspire you to eat a healthy lunch, starting the day with a strong workout will motivate you to skip the donut in the morning meeting, and so on. Not to mention that after a race you are dehydrated and are probably going to get drunker faster (not a good idea). But I digress… at least people are getting out there! Baby steps!!

And I will end with a wonderful inspirational quote that I read: “It’s not how my body looks, it’s what it can achieve!” :) LOVE IT!

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