Running Through the Challenges
Running for the Health of it!
Historically, whenever people hear that someone they know has become a runner, or graduated to the level of "avid" runner, they begin sharing the wive's tales (and truths) regarding how damaging to the body and joints that running is. Although there is partial truth to this theory, what most people do not realize is that the health benefits afforded runners far outweigh the detriments. Although one can certainly expect to have some level of arthritis later in life as a result of running, there are many remedies from cortisol injections to stem cell replacement therapy that bring relief to this pain. What people will not tell you is that runners are 100% guaranteed at least a 30% reduction in all serious health ailments and diseases, including at least a 50% lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
Recently, after being an "avid" runner for 6 years, and completing 54 races within 5 of those 6 years, I learned that I no longer have ANY cartilage in my left knee. Instead, it has been replaced with bone spurs (which grow when cartilage is gone). In addition, I have a torn meniscus, which surgical reparation of would be to no avail!
This was very devastating news to me, and resulted in an 8 month depression and complete lack of activity. Since running, for me, is much more than a sport or hobby, but rather a lifestyle, my mental, physical and emotional catharsis, I completely retreated from healthful exercise. I already knew that the inside of a gym was not the place for me, since running was not simply about "working out."
Interestingly, 8 months was as long as I could remain idle without losing FAR too much muscle tone, strength, fitness, and my mind! I also really wanted to know whether I could run, at all, without pain. Having previously been an average-speed runner, it was an adjustment the first time back out, to find that I needed to slow down to a level that I would have previously reserved in my mind for complete novices. However, I was reminded that a mile is a mile, and the fitness achieved and calories burned are the same regardless of how fast or slow you run it. In addition, the health benefits of running are not reserved for the fatties. I am now committed to a new way of approaching running, and will not concede to the idea of not running anymore. I have slowed WAY down, and in fact, am ok with run/walking at times, in order to be able to keep running at all!
In 5 1/2 weeks, I will complete my sixth 15K, and will be running at the back of the pack for the first time, but moving forward, I am constantly reminded of how critical running...at any speed...is to my improved and continued health.