Day 153 ~ 177 Days of Unexpected Health Project

Cardiovascular Health

I would never have considered myself a runner when I was young. In fact, I hated playing basketball BECAUSE of all the running it required. I ran track in junior high but stuck with the short 50 and 100 yard dash. But a couple of years ago, I decided to change that ‘story’ I had told to myself that I wasn’t and couldn’t be a runner. I really wanted to be someone who could come home from work, put on her running shoes, and unwind with a run. Well today, as I returned from a post 1/2 marathon run, I discovered the Unexpected Health in–you guessed it–running.

Now if you would have asked me three days ago (after my 1/2 marathon), I would have been at a loss for ANY health benefits of running. But after the heat exhaustion subsided, I remember why running is so healthy for us (as long as your knees are up for the run). Of course, running improves cardiovascular health; running is also great for maintaining an ‘optimal’ body size (optimal meaning for an individual, NOT what the media tells us!); and just like cycling, running is a great excuse for being outdoors. But the Unexpected Health in running is that no matter how far or fast you run, you always come back to your starting point…and knowing that you are not running AWAY from life but are pacing WITH it is healthy.

You always hear the unhealthy correlations with running: you know, like being told that you are, “Running away from your problems.” While I think we are all guilty of that from time to time, I found that today, I was running so for no avoidance reasons at all.

Let me explain. I wanted to take Lucca for a hike today. With all of my weekend’s festivities, I somewhat neglected my four-legged, carob-chip-eyebrowed friend. So, I wanted to give her lots of time and space to roam, run, and slosh through the muddy waters in the Open Space. But once I got out into the oxygen-rich, fresh air, I couldn’t help but want to run! I never would have thought I would say that…I actually WANTED to run! But here’s what changed…my perspective, and ultimately, my health.

This last year or so, I got back into running. But my reasons for running were less to do with recognition and all to do with health. For me, running was a challenge…but becoming a ‘runner’ was achievable. Sometimes in life, we need to challenge ourselves. We need to set goals and work toward them. This cycle of setting goals and achieving them help solidify a bigger life goal…that we are continually transforming. Running–for me–is like breaking out of the chrysalis (the ‘story’) and realizing the butterfly that is waiting to unfurl its wings and fly.

Life is movement. We are constantly changing the scenery, adapting our environment, and setting the pace for our next adventure. What we think we can achieve, we can! So the next time you feel the desire to set a goal–like running–remember that what you think is unreachable may very well be right at your fingertips…or in your next pair of running shoes. -Until tomorrow, Jaime

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