Saturday, March 31, 2012

Running can................

During the heady running boom days of the 70's, running was viewed by many as a panacea for a variety of ills,not the least of which was cancer. It was an exciting time, running was prominently featured in all the media outlets, it occupied a place in this country's consciousness that hasn't been seen since that decade. However,as all things must eventually come to an end,the initial enthusiasm and faddish excitement of the 70's and early 80's faded, people found out that running couldn't cure cancer,in fact, you could actually injure yourself and become sick from this sport if you weren't careful.The media began to sour on running and began to publish many cautionary tales on the "dangers" of running. The death of Jim Fixx in 1984 was a serious blow to the sport's image of being a healthy activity. Jim's excellent book,The Complete Book Of Running, published in 1977,was one of the two major reasons for the running boom,the other being Frank Shorter's gold medal in the marathon at the '72 Olympics.In regards to Fixx's death, largely ignored by the media,at least early on, was the fact that Fixx had a family history of serious heart problems. Combine this with the fact that he abused his body for decades by being a heavy smoker,his premature death shouldn't have come as all that big of a surprise. The not so thinly veiled message that came from articles published after his death was that jogging had the potential to kill you. Of course this wasn't helped in later years when former running advocates such as Dr. Kenneth Cooper and Jeff Galloway produced books strongly cautioning people from running "too much"(Editor: this is discussed further in a prior blog entry,Betrayal From Within, The Trojan Horse Syndrome). Although I will agree that running cannot cure cancer, it can change and mold you,if,you allow it to. Recently,during the course of a conversation with Harve Sipel,a friend and fellow running zealot,he said something that caused me to stop and think for awhile. He said that in all his years of running,he had never met a dedicated runner who was overly preoccupied with having lots of money. The key word here is dedicated runner, a runner who,as I like to say,"lives for the run." As I thought back to all the athletes I had known over the years I had to agree with what Harve had said. In fact, some runners I'd known had forgone potentially lucrative career changes because it would have had a negative impact on their running. I then started to think about the characteristics of a dedicated athlete in which you could see how running had helped shape and influence them.What follows are some of the things I've noticed about runners over the years, it's in no way intended to be a comprehensive listing,I'm sure there are other traits you could add.To begin would be the ability to discipline's oneself, as well as having a respect for your body and health.Include an appreciation of nature, of life and of your own well being. A type of calmness appears to be a characteristic of the distance runner, some call it being "laid back". Add to this a quiet self-assurance and confidence. A desire for simplicity in life also comes to mind.
As I said, there are other characteristics you see in a dedicated runner, and although running may not be a cure for major diseases, it will change you and your life in a very positive way if you allow it to.

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