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Why Running is the Easiest, Cheapest and Most Natural Exercise

Charlie Geer Charlie Geer Why Running is the Easiest, Cheapest and Most Natural ExercisePhoto by Walker Evans.
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Next time you’re at the bookstore, or even a grocery store, pick up a running magazine. Every single issue of every single running magazine has at least one article devoted to novice runners, because a large chunk of their sales depends on exactly what you’re doing now: picking up the magazine, wondering where to start. Flip through the magazine: check out the gear reviews, glance over “Seven Core Exercises EVERY Runner Should Be Doing.”

Now put the magazine down and ignore everything in it.

In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you: I am a running coach. People pay me to help them become better runners. Some of them just want to be healthy, some of them want to improve on their own times, some of them want to win races. I am also wildly unnecessary.

Here’s how to start running: put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt, dig out a pair of tennis shoes and go run around the block. It’s that easy. You don’t need compression knee socks or a fancy hydration belt or wraparound sunglasses. You should, at some point, go to a running store and have them help you pick out a pair of shoes from the bewildering selection available to you. But you don’t need the most expensive ones, I promise.

Running is the purest form of human activity. There is abundant evidence that humans have been running for as long as they could rightly be called humans. Running is so fundamental that it literally gets you naturally high. When you run your body releases mood altering endorphins that give you the same kind of feelings you get when you’re in love.

I’m not going to deny that running is hard. It can be. It can be whatever you make it. I know people who track their training as scientifically as possible, trying to get any edge they possibly can. I know others who refuse to wear a watch and run purely for the joy of it, people who come back from a run and have no idea how far they went. Me, personally? I like to push myself. I’m never smiling in my finish line pictures, because I’m generally in pain. But I also still eat chicken wings and drink beer.

If there’s one notion I could disabuse people of, it’s that you have to spend money to be healthy and happy. You don’t need the newest, shiniest gym (perhaps you’ve seen the stories recently about how most gyms’ business models depends on you NOT going). You don’t need an expensive coach (that’s me). You don’t need new gear or technical clothes (unless you want them, your choice!).

There are multitudes of online training resources and plans. Whatever you want to do, from running your first 5K to qualifying for the Boston Marathon, there’s a plan for that at your fingertips. And counter-intuitively, plans like this often require LESS of a commitment than other types of fitness plans. There’s no scheduling with a trainer, there’s no driving to the gym or hustling to make it to a class. Whenever you have a spare 45 minutes you can run, and you can do it on YOUR schedule.

Look, there’s a whole galaxy of products and services out there to help you become a better, faster runner and a healthier person. I’m part of that. But I also truly love running, whether it’s with a chatty group of friends or on a quiet morning in a park; whether it’s in a competitive setting or just as a way to enjoy a beautiful day. So ignore the plans, the accessories, all of it. Just go run, I promise you won’t regret it.

From January 5 – 11, Columbus Underground is featuring our Health & Wellness Week series, brought to you by the The Fitness Loft. The Fitness Loft is more than just a gym – it’s a visionary approach to developing a sustainable community and creating an atmosphere that encourages people to lead a healthier life. Our holistic concept includes biometric wellness screening, Technogym exercise equipment that records progress, free group fitness and nutrition classes, an on-site Registered Dietitian, and much more to give you a truly unique wellness experience. Located at 625 Parsons Avenue, Columbus, OH 43206.

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