benjamin alexander smith

The Joy of Running

I started running around 4 months ago. I was immediately entranced by it and even blogged about my experience, extolling the virtues of run commuting and the dramatic benefit I received from the activity.

I was particularly smitten in my last post, having managed to run over 5 km on the road with­out a rest in just 27 minutes and 38 seconds. I gushed about how each and every run made me feel great about myself, and enthusiastically announced my goal to begin running at least 15 km per week (ideally over 20 km).

Given my subsequent silence, you might suspect that my running activities gradually faded out. But surprisingly, this is one exercise fad which hasn’t fallen off with time. This fad has become rather more than just a phase; it’s become a lifestyle.

The week after my blog post in June I hit my target and ran just over 20 km. The week after that I ran my first ever 10 km route. During the month following my post, I ran an average of over 15 km per week, hitting my target. I kept that up right through July.

In the latter half of July I ran my first ever non-stop 10km, and the week after that I ran a non-stop 16 km out-and-back route. In August I ran a total of 66 km, even though I was away at a festival for four days.

September was expected to suffer from slow progress: I was going away on holiday for an all inclusive week of binge eating and lounging in the sun. Despite that, I ran 10 km non-stop, 13 km non-stop and 16 km non-stop. I even ran 5 km three times during my holiday in Tenerife! The hard work paid off, because I ended up running 84 km (averaging almost 20km a week). If keep that up for a year, I’ll have run over 1,000 km.

October continued the trend, and it has been a very good month. In 31 days, I’ve run over 125 km. I ran a 36 km week, a 20 km week, a 42 km week and a 27 km week. I ran my fastest ever 5 km route (24 minutes and 19 seconds), my fastest ever 10 km route (51 minutes and 10 seconds) and my first ever half marathon (a self-imposed race which took me 2 hours and 9 minutes).

I’ve achieved a lot. But what are the results? To quote from my last post:

Aside from the immediate boosts following the activity, I really do feel better over­all. I have more energy. I feel more productive. My mind is more active. I need less coffee. My muscles feel stronger, my lungs strain less, my body feels less flabby and I’m gradually los­ing weight.

It’s all still true. I feel comfortable in my skin. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been–mentally as well as physically. I’m fit, I’m happy, and I’m healthy. My BMI is now rapidly approaching 25, and I’m about to hit “normal weight” for the first time since I reached adulthood.

When I feel tired, I run to perk myself up. When I feel energetic, I run to let myself go. When I feel stressed, I run to clear my head. When I feel peaceful, I run to enjoy the rhythm of my feet.

For me, running has been life changing. I can’t recommend it enough.

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