No announcement yet.

Recreational distance runners: why do you run?


Unconfigured Ad Widget

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

    If you are a recreational distance runner as I am, I'd like to know why you run and what kind of running you do.

    I run for (as my friend Jerry Smartt said) the joy of movement. I like to be active. It just feels good in my otherwise sedentary life to go out for a run. At age 69 I've been running since I was 14 when I went out for cross-country at my Tustin, California high school.

    Yes, I believe in the physical health benefits, but I love how a 35-40 minute jaunt relieves stress. I can go out on a run feeling uptight about things and always feel better afterwards--sometimes even wondering why I was so upset.

    So, now you know why my username on this site is "lovetorun".

  • #2
    Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

    It's good for my head. I do my best thinking while running. My wife will tell you that I'm not as pleasant to be around when I'm not able to run. Finally, there is the satisfaction I get when I'm out there and just knocking the distance off at a clip that makes me wonder how I'm doing it. For the last 7 months I've been dealing with a tear and a mildly arthritic hip, so its a case of seeing what I can manage in order to keep my head on straight without having the body break down. Now I'm happy to just be able to go out 2 -3 times a week and run some.


    • #3
      Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

      Two distinct reason/motivations: Competition and Satisfaction.

      After a 15 year hiatus following college, as I approached 40, I probably trained as much as I did in college looking forward to Masters competition in the sprints and LJ. I competed at national level with modest success for more than 20 years, despite having bone on bone in my left knee, the result of arthoscopic meniscus surgery following a water skiing accident when I was 49.
      Eventually, the knee won. Choosing to not become cannon fodder in the sprints, I sorta shifted gears to long, slow running until knee replacement at age 77 converted me from runner to jogger to walker.
      But for a couple of decades when I could run at ease without extreme discomfort, in addition to knowing that, done in moderation, it was good for me, I looked forward to cruising after getting that "second wind", whatever it is, and that good tired feeling after a run.
      On the few occasions (broken foot, work/travel schedule, etc.) when I was unable to run, I actually had "withdrawal pains"...which quickly dissipated when I resumed running.


      • #4
        Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

        I am a bit younger than those who have identified their ages on here, but am so grateful to be still able to run quite a bit, and to maintain at least the form of the routine I had when I was in my 20s-30s and was a "competitive" runner (by that, all I mean is I was doing everything I could to be the best I could -- I had zero talent). I still run 40-50 miles per week, and follow the structure of what I used to do (e.g., including a long run, or what passes for it; some speed work, or what passes for it). Running a lot less than I used to -- and so much slower. I have learnt that I can run about as much as I want, as long as I don't push anything too hard. Injuries at this stage of life are far more debilitating than whatever small edge I would get by pushing that much harder.

        I stopped competing almost 15 years ago -- I just lost interest in being at races, but I always loved the daily routine of training more than racing, in any case. Someone once used the phrase "happily tired muscles" to describe the feeling of training and exercise, and I still feel that.

        To an uninformed outsider, it probably looks like a fantasy-land endeavour -- some old guy trying to do what he did when he was younger. But I think of it more as an exercise in reality. Everyday I am running, I am also running with the "me" who is half my age, and I know, with concrete data, how far away I am from that person. Athletics does that for me -- sobering as it is, it is a careful experiment in tracking my own life cycle. I actually enjoy it -- I know well as an older man what I can and can't do. I have encountered (not recently, but I used to) athletes who had given up the sport who hung on to ideas that they could still do what they did as younger men; my daily workout disabuses me of those ideas. But it is the case, on some days, when I finish out a run feeling really good, and running "fast" (for me, now), it feels just like I did when I was at my best. I enjoy that.

        I do still engage in one race with my younger self, which I also enjoy -- trying to run a mile to the best of my present ability, so that my younger self doesn't lap me. For some reason, I find some amusement in that.

        What I miss most is training with a group, especially in cross country or on the track. Those training sessions were my happiest days in the sport, even when I was getting my butt kicked by pretty much everyone, as I almost always was.

        Bottom line -- it's fun, it feels good, it connects me to the community and world I live in, let's me explore in interesting ways new places when I'm traveling. It establishes and sets the daily routine. It keeps a part of me "for me" that my overbearing work life doesn't touch.


        • #5
          Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

          When I got to high school, I saw that they had cross country and thought that would be a good sport for me. I was a mediocre high school runner (e.g., 7th man on the JV team my senior year until the last meet, where I guess my body finally matured (started HS at 4'11" 83 lbs). Ran occasionally in college and then two years in to grad school started running as a 'serious recreational' runner (2:35 marathon, hence my 'handle') until serious plantar fasciitis lead to a switch to racing on the bike, mainly hill climbs in southern California for three years until grad school ended.

          I made an effort to get back (target 2:40) at age 40, but similar foot problems arose, and I curtailed racing a couple years later. I still ran and rode, sometimes fairly hard, but have not really raced in 20 years, partly due to herniated disks. However, this year I retired and have increased by exercise substantially, including weight work again the last two months. I have even been toying with the idea of racing again if I can get back down to 45 for a 10k. I had my longest runs in 10-15 years until everything froze up, so I have been doing shorter, faster runs on a treadmill the last two months.

          Why? I have always run and ridden, and I am a bit driven. If I am out running or riding and someone it ahead of me I am often drawn to increase my effort to catch them, although now I cannot do so nearly as often as ten-twenty years ago.


          • #6
            Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

            I wonder if there're any posters here who had (or thought they had) a proclivity for a sedentary lifestyle and were later completely changed by the prescription/advice of running from doctors/friends. I took up running together with indoor cycling purely for the cardiovascular benefits, because of some mild health issues that seemed too premature - and at first I absolutely hated both activities. Now one year has passed, I got much better health- and performance-wise but I'm still not fond of riding for more than half an hour in a fixed place at home, but it's getting hard for me not to go out and enjoy a run for 80~90 minutes on a fine day, just for the sake of being outdoors and splitting the air with some velocity, however poor that is ops:


            • #7
              Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

              I will rarely ride for 60 minutes indoors and my record is about 75 minutes -- I consider 75 minutes a rather modest ride once I have been riding for a while outdoors. And I am sure that I have done a hundred or more miles more times than I have ridden for 60min indoors.

              Similarly, I am not sure I have run for more than 60 minutes indoors (although I have done elliptical trainer for 20 minutes and then 50 on the treadmill, sometimes with 10-20 on the exercise bike). I do tend to go harder on the indoor machines. However, I am not really that comfortable on the treadmill when speeds get up, especially faster than 7:30/mile (4:40/km) so I hold the structure, which reduces the effort a little bit.


              • #8
                Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

                I started running 10 years ago for health benefit (weight loss, cholesterol reduction, etc.) after nearly two decades of sedentary life.

                And those objectives were achieved within a few years on a relatively low mileage (20-25mpw). But I started racing, and I got hooked. My first race was a 1 mile, and I quickly moved onto 5K/10K. I ran my first half in 2008 and first marathon in 2009. After six marathons, and 11 half marathons, I am still eager to race.

                What is so addictive about running is that improvement is easy to measure, and you are more than likely to improve in a visible way if you train smart. As Flanagan once said, this is a perfect sport for people who are interested in "self-improvement." I failed to improve on any of my PBs last year for the first time (due to injury and show storm -- the latter cancelled my last chance of the year), but I think I still have a few years left to improve my time. After that, I can measure my "improvement" by age-graded time, my placement in the age group, etc.

                I am currently training for my half in March, and marathon in April. Here is what I did this week.

                M - rest.
                T- 7 miles easy.
                W - 11 miles progression.
                R - 7 miles easy.
                F - 8 miles with 4 miles of "hill climb."
                SA - 7 miles easy.
                SU - 16.5 miles easy.

                Everything except Sunday was on a treadmill. Since I find it scary to run fast on a treadmill, I try to raise the intensity by increasing the incline. (Hence the "hill climb" on Friday.)


                • #9
                  Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

                  I have started running on a treadmill in the last eight weeks (finally joined a gym for the first time). I have always felt a bit awkward on a treadmill, although it is starting to get a little better. However, the faster I go, the more that I want to hold on to the machinery, which helps a little if you are just 'touching' or a lot if you hold on hard.

                  I still do not run nearly as long as I do for many outdoor runs, with a longest so far of 50 minutes. I do tend to run a fair bit faster, especially after a little bit. I suppose that going up and down on pace helps with the boredom. However, I tend to do 10-20 minutes on an elliptical trainer first and sometimes also 10-30 minutes on an exercise bike as well (and half an hour of weight work). I am wondering how it will be when I can run outside (I did yesterday, actually, warmer but still a number of icy spots or others where there was semi-melt across the whole path). It will be a couple of months before I can actually run the trails again, however, which is where I have generally done 90% of my miles.


                  • #10
                    Re: Recreational distance runners: why do you run?

                    The sidewalks and bike trails were covered by ice and snow, so I decided to do my weekend long run on a treadmill yesterday. UConn and Louisville started playing shortly after I started running, and by the time they finished, I was still at mile 14. This was the first time I watched an entire basketball game on treadmill. And I still had 4.5 miles to go.

                    I hope it will be safe enough to run outdoor by the next weekend, since I am planning to do a 20-miler.