“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be. In running the mind flees with the body, the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain, in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” – Joyce Carol Oates
In Chapter Two of Twenty-four Years to Boston, I write that running, “is pure and natural, an activity that closely followed walking after we let go of the coffee table as toddlers.” More people have commented on that single sentence than any other in the book. The only explanation I can come up with is its simplicity.
At its core, running is simple–you lace em up and hit the trail. For most runners that’s all you need to know. Sometimes I think it’s our human nature to over-complicate things. You read an article in a magazine, listen to a presentation at an expo, overhear two runners sharing advice, and the next thing you know you’re questioning yourself and forget you’ve been doing this running thing your entire life.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for the technical side of running. There is. In fact, it’s vital for a competitor. Elite athletes and runners training to qualify for a race, or chasing a PR (personal record) can improve their stride, endurance and finishing times by following advice researched and tested by qualified professionals. Consider that the John McDermott won the first Boston Marathon in 2:55:10 in 1897 and Geoffery Mutia’s winning time was 2:03:01 in 2011 as proof.
The key question each runner has to ask themselves is, What do I want to get out of running? If you want to qualify for Boston or set another PR, it’s unlikely your going to do it without advice from the experts, following a training program, and perhaps joining a running club.
But if you are looking to get outdoors for some exercise, commune with nature, release some endorphins to relieve the stress, begin easy and increase mileage incrementally (see How to Become A Runner.) Your body will let you know when the competitive juices start flowing.