Coming to Running: (at 40, 50, 60, 70!) – Why run?

You won’t be running if you are not mobile or don’t want to exercise. But otherwise, why should you choose running?

This is a symmetrical activity. You use one leg at a time, but anything the left leg does the right leg is also bound to do which means the load on the body is balanced in a left-right sense. This is quite different from racquet sports which tend to put a high strain on one side of the body.

It is normally done outdoors. I am writing this in the time of covid and many more people recognise the value of getting out into the fresh air for their well-being.

It can be done at any age, at any time, at any level. There is no frustrating baseline of skill. No specially place is required. You can arrive in a foreign land and run in the city, run in the countryside, run on the beach, run in the hills. No special equipment is needed. You can do it with your kids or your partner or friends or alone. You can do it in the rain or snow or darkness. Then you might need some minimal equipment such as a waterproof or a head torch.

There are other sports which load the body symmetrically.

Swimming is good. Support for the physical body during swimming means no unexpected loading and strain on the joints. As long as you avoid breast stroke. Of course a pool is usually necessary. Most pool lengths are the same, so this can get very boring. Open water swimming is something else, of course.

Cycling. The bicycle is a very efficient machine. That means for exercise you need to go far and fast and up some good hills! Bikes do cost money, and it is easy to get into an escalating spiral of expensive steeds! The open road can be a dangerous place. Cycling indoors on the other hand can be deadly boring – although I understand some people watch television at the same time.

Skiing. Of course we’re not talking about downhill skiing. ‘Cross-country’ skiing is a great winter exercise and, in the environments which support it, widely available. Special equipment is needed but it need not be too expensive. But snow is necessary. Reasonable weather is preferable. And daylight too! Skimo is probably the ultimate exercise but really only for the specialist – requiring a level of base fitness, special equipment, and mountain skills.

Walking. In many ways walking cannot be bettered. Walking is great for getting a basic level of fitness. No strain on the body; a good dose of fresh air; stimulating surroundings. All this is a great recipe for an active life. To get beyond that basic level of fitness though can be difficult. More hours and more challenging countryside is necessary.

Running gets you through the landscape faster than walking. See more!

Running can cause problems. The potential for injury however is less than in many other sports. Watch your technique, support this with some basic strength, and look after any niggles before them become serious.

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