I have to say that I was still feeling the red wine when I woke up, and I really noticed how much better the run left me feeling than the drink did.
So here's a list of reasons why I love my crazy sport:
- It's social: runners tend to appreciate and offer encouragement. Especially the nice crowd at Dulwich Runners.
- It's exciting: enter a road race and the tension mounts from the moment you get to the start. Give yourself a realistically challenging target time and the satisfaction and frustration at hitting or missing it can be enormously motivating.
- It's brilliant stress-management: like a good night's sleep or a hot bath (but unlike booze or gluttony) it not only takes you away from your worries, but leaves you feeling better to deal with them on your return.
- It can be euphoric: many runners will tell you about the pleasant, unexpected bonus of a "runner's high", and even an ordinary run leaves a feeling of satisfaction and well-being.
- It's patches up your self-esteem: I never knew I had the discipline and commitment to maintain such a good habit. I may feel a bit of a fraud when people congratulate me on it - only I know how many times I haven't gone running when I knew I should have - but I still enjoy it.
- It's constructively competitive: most of the time you're running against yourself, but on any club run - and especially in any race - there will be someone you'll feel you should be able to catch. And if he or she accepts the challenge you'll both run harder as a result.
- It embodies a practical and positive philosophy: in a world where £17.2bn was spent on advertising in the UK in 2003, all with the implicit message that "you are what you buy", it's good to spend time in a more rewarding world where "you are what you do".
- It's cheap: all you need to buy is a pair of shoes. The will to do something about your life, the vision to see how much better even a foul-weather run will leave you feeling than the same length of time slumped in front of a TV, and the determination to keep running even when your lungs are rasping and your legs moaning are each a bit like true love - they can only be given not bought, and they will enrich your life forever. Are you generous enough to give yourself one pair of shoes, a little will, a glimpse of vision and a pinch of determination?
- It may lengthen your life: according to a recent study "The performance of the heart declines steadily as men get older. The hearts of our inactive older volunteers showed a 20% fall in their pumping performance compared to the 20 year-olds, but the veteran athletes have the cardiac performance that is the same if not greater than the inactive 20-year-olds."
- It makes you fitter: and being fit just feels good.