I hate running for the sake of running. I need a ball to chase. Or a disc. Or a person. Or maybe a bull to run away from (this has happened to me, twice). But just running for the sake of running? I can think of nothing worse (not even the bull thing).
This was my position six weeks ago, before I started running and stuck to it. Now, I’m less harsh. I can see the benefits of running. We’re still not best friends, but I can tolerate the idea.
The reason I even contemplated the idea of running was because living in Vienna for a Semester makes it difficult for me to join team sports (my favourite and most played of which are football (soccer) and Frisbee). I was aware of the notion that keeping fit is beneficial to one’s health. The tipping point was a bet with a friend. I wanted to prove (perhaps to myself, more than him) that I could do it. And so the terms were laid out: I had to run 3 times a week for a minimum of 20 minutes. Not so hard, right? Surely even I, a staunch opponent of the very idea of running, could manage that.
The benefits to running on exchange soon became clear to me. It’s an excellent opportunity to discover a new city. I get to cover more ground than I would walking, and I have access to places I wouldn’t have on public transport or a bike. The only limit to what I can explore is my own stamina. Furthermore, running is an individual and transferrable skill – when I travel to new places for a couple of days, I can run in that place and discover more of the place. I feel like running gives me an insight into the actual day-to-day lives of locals as I run through their neighbourhoods. It lets me escape from the well-worn tourist trail. Or, it lets me explore more of the fantastic scenery and nature that this world offers.
I began to see tangible improvement very quickly. My first run, I ran for 20 minutes, with my goal being to just run without stopping. Since then, I have been able to improve my speed and consequently my distance significantly. It’s quite rewarding to see such tangible improvements, and gives me the motivation to continue.
I very rarely feel like going for a run before I go, but after the runs I feel energetic and excited for what I can achieve the next time I go for a run (this motivation tends to dissipate immediately before the next run).
I’m not sure that I’ll keep running when I come back to Australia and have the chance to take part in team sports again. But I am very glad that I’m giving it a chance for this semester. It’s keeping me fit, happy (every time other than immediately before the run), and healthy, and its giving me the opportunity to explore new places.