Coach Mike Mead


The Benefits of Running

Those of us who enjoy the sport of running have various motivations to engage our interests.† I have reached the age that competition no longer motivates me to run.† Rather, it has become more of a lifestyle.

Between Christmas and New Yearís I read an advice column in a local newspaper while out of town.† A 70-year-old gent wrote that he was in good health for his age, practiced sound diet habits, avoided excesses like smoking and drinking, and regularly exercised.† He asked the advice columnist how his life style stacked up to the overall population.

The columnist replied that the gent was among only six percent of the population who lived the life style the writer described.† With all of the awareness in the benefits of smart eating and exercising, it is sad that so few people live healthy.

Runners are a special breed and those of us who continue to run after their competitive years are rarer.† Unlike the popular team sports, runners can continue to practice their craft beyond their prime years of being competitive.† Those you played football, basketball and the like have limited opportunities after their heydays.† Individual sports like running, golf, and tennis can provide plenty of competitive opportunities for years.

Running is one of those rare activities that anyone can take on at any age and improve their wellbeing.† Running requires effort and discipline.† One must invest some time and be a consistent practitioner.† Thatís where the 94 percent get hung up.† It is probably higher than 94 percent.

I am approaching the end of my 50ís and I donít know of too many individuals my age who still run.† Folks my age are supposed to walk.† It is low impact.† It is good for the aging joints.† But I am still a busy guy with limited time. I prefer getting in a 5-mile run in 35-45 minutes rather than spending at least twice as much time walking that same distance.† Besides, my joints are not achy.

I am no longer motivated putting in the work to race.† It is more about quality of life as I approach the so-called ďgolden years.Ē

I coach my runners to look at the ďbig pictureĒ or their long-term running goals.† I want them to enjoy running and its benefits after their college years.

What are the benefits of running?† I can only talk about the benefits I have gotten from running.† Everyone is different.† There are some common health benefits, such as a strong cardiovascular system, lower incidents of sickness, and consistent weight.

I have had other benefits that some runners will not experience.† One benefit has been a career in running as a coach.† I wasnít looking to be a coach, but I have benefitted from being one for the past 21 years.

Another benefit running has provided me is health-related in that I believe my cancer battle eight years ago gave me the ability to beat it by being physically and mentally strong.† Had I not been living the life of a runner, I believe I would have had more issues.

My runnersí body hasnít changed a whole lot in the past 30-40 years.† I have weighed about the same since my college days, so another benefit has been that my clothing sizes have stayed relatively the same.† I have some clothes that are older than the college kids I coach!

Obviously there are no guarantees or certainties in life.† However, running has increased my odds and can increase your odds if you embrace it.† There are many negative factors in life that running can help you overcome and provide balance.

I began running for its competitive challenges.† I continue to run for the healthy benefits.† I am hedging my bets on the benefits Iíve gained from running to age gracefully.

Getting old is no fun, or so Iím told.† I am old and I am still rolling along.† Iíll keep running until old age says otherwise.† Cheers!