health Running well-being wellness

Running til death do us

July 4, 2015

I played quite a bit of rugby back in the day. Ultimate Frisbee, house league hockey, high school football, dragon boat racing, curling, snowboarding, softball, a wee spot o’ tennis here and there, and even some leisurely racquetball all made it on my competitive or casual sport playing list.

Today, I run. It’s a slightly shorter list.

I gave up some sports due to access, like ultimate frisbee which I only gave up this year when we moved to a region where a league doesn’t exist. I just enjoyed being casually involved with some sports, like tennis, in the first place. And other sports are those I was forced to quit due to injuries, mainly concussions. Many concussions. Lots of noggin trauma.

When my first child was born, I tipped the scales at 190 lbs, I was having a beer or two every day or almost, and I was doing nothing physical at all outside of cutting the lawn (with a beer in hand). Now, for me, a 5′ 9″ average build guy, 190 was a massive number and it scared the bejebus out of me. I knew at that moment that I needed to take better care of myself not only for me, but for my son to have as many years possible with his dad.

I looked at my sporting career as I knew I wanted to get back into shape through sport (and by cutting down on the beer intake in fairly dramatic fashion!). But many sports were out due to the risk of repeat head injuries. And I would have loved to play rugby for even just one more year. I did play on a slo-pitch softball team, but clearly that wasn’t going to get me fit. Ultimate frisbee was fantastic and I played during the summer, but with kids and career to balance, the rest of the year was just too full to fit in disc throwing. I joined an indoor soccer team, but they played at too high a level for this hack to keep up or be effective.

So, by necessity and default, running became my thing. It was inexpensive, I could run when and where I wanted, and it didn’t put my brittle balsa wood constructed skull at risk.

Running became my magic bean and as I planted it and fed it run after run, I watched myself grow as a person with clearer thought, better memory, and more daily reserves of energy. I also watched my waistline shrink. It has taken 7 years of on and off again running, but I am maintaining a weight that is 35 pounds lighter and I feel every day a heck of a lot healthier all around.

I run for a number of reasons which I have touched on previously, but the one that I have not focused on as of yet is the very real and practical reason that I want to live longer. I run because it is proven to add years to a life. Running allows me to feel alive and inevitably be alive longer. Running is what will provide me with an increased possibility of seeing my children grow and then seeing their own children grow too.

I often miss the thrill of sprinting down the pitch with ball in hand dashing toward the try line and dodging opponents. And the contact…I loved to tackle. That split second when your shoulder would make contact in a freight train collision and you’d hear the thud, the breath exhale, and feel the turf cold underneath you was the best split second ever. Then, I lived for rugby. Now, I run to live.

Running and I are now a serious couple. While we may need a break now and again, the only thing that will keep us apart for any real length of time will be death. And according to this study, that’ll be 6.2 years later than the average.

And if you’re wondering, no, I haven’t had a break up with beer. We’re just not seeing each other near as often. Which I find makes me enjoy it that much more.

There are multitudes of reasons to run, and running to prolong life is only one, but it sure is a hell of a good reason eh!

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