Natural Health Journals

The Exhilaration of the Long-Distance Runner

It doesn’t matter what triggers it. Maybe you’ve finally gotten tired of bleary-eyed nights doing nothing more physically challenging than watching Sports Center, followed by days spent in torpor. Maybe your girl friend lost 10 pounds doing it. Hell, maybe it’s the fact that even your dog is in better condition than you are. Again, the reason doesn’t matter. All that counts is that you’ve finally decided to start a running program.

So you lace up that two-year old pair of jogging shoes, head to the local park, run one lap and collapse. But the next day you do it again and manage a lap and a half. By the end of week one, you’re doing two laps; by the end of week two, you’re up to three. After a couple of weeks or so, your body starts adapting to its new workload: Your heart beats more efficiently, and it takes longer for you to become winded. You start looking forward to your runs with an avidity previously reserved only for the NBA Finals. But you’ll know you’ve really crossed the line that separates jogging dilettante from serious runner when:

  • You buy your first pair of ankle-high socks.
  • Your disposable income starts going toward a regular supply of quality running shoes.
  • You can fit into that old pair of size-32 jeans that have been in your closet for years.
  • You no longer have to suck in your gut in the presence of the opposite sex.
  • You become acquainted with the phenomenon of second wind.
  • Your boss’s demands no longer send your blood pressure soaring out of control.
  • You crave fruit as a snack rather than cookies or chips.
  • You step on the scale and do a double take, having pared down to your high school playing weight.
  • You evaluate a park by how long it would take you to run around it.
  • The Salvadoran soccer players at the park where you train-cardio gods to a man-give you thumbs-up after your 10th lap.
  • You enter your first 10K.
  • You cross the finish line — exhausted but exhilarated.