Running is a difficult activity as it requires a lot of effort, but it’s one of the few skills every human being on the planet is born with.
We’ve relied on it for thousands of years to catch prey, but also to save us from becoming prey. Today, we’ve lost that practice and people often wonder if running is really a hobby.
Running is most definitely a hobby. You don’t have to achieve professional results to be a runner, and the vast majority of people run to stay healthy and relieve stress – not to break records. Also, running is one of the cheapest hobbies out there!
Some questions need answering, though. Why is running so healthy? How does it improve your fitness, and how can you start running?
Time to find out.
Running Is One of the Healthiest Hobbies
To answer the titular question – yes, running is a hobby, but it is a sport at the same time.
People sometimes have trouble seeing running as a hobby because it’s an intensely physical activity, while hobbies are traditionally seen as something relaxing.
Well, running is incredibly relaxing too. To people who religiously devote their lives to running, it’s a form of meditation in a similar way to painting or playing video games.
But do you know what physical exertion improves? Health!
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about mental or physical health – running is scientifically proven to improve both.
Let’s list down a few positives you get from running:
- running, just like all sports, strengthens your muscles (more on that in the next section)
- running strains the heart, keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, and lowering the risk of heart disease
- since running is a weight-bearing sport, it keeps your bones healthy (runners have a lower arthritis rate than people who don’t run)
- it is one of the best calorie-burning activities, which is great if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight
- running tires you out and helps you fall asleep in the evening
- running significantly improves your mental health
In the popular TV show Parks and Rec, Anne Perkins once said “Jogging is the worst, Chris! I mean I know it keeps you healthy, but God, at what cost?”
Well, Anne, research says that the cost is well worth paying!
If you’re looking for a hobby that’ll keep you healthy in every possible way, running is arguably the best choice (as long as you keep proper form and don’t overexert yourself).
Running Greatly Improves Endurance and Strength
There are essentially two types of running exercises – aerobic and anaerobic exercises. Depending on what you’re aiming for, both of these exercises can help you.
Aerobic running means that you’re using oxygen to fuel your muscles. In practice, this refers to long-distance running (anything more than 3 miles, basically).
These exercises burn fat, keep blood sugar levels in check, and it improves endurance.
You’re not only improving endurance by expanding your lung capacity, but your muscles (mostly the muscles in your legs) are also getting stronger in that regard.
Anaerobic running is explosive – short sprints. For example, footballers mostly focus on anaerobic running. During anaerobic running, we don’t fuel our bodies with oxygen, but with carbohydrates.
If you focus on anaerobic running, you won’t burn as much fat, but you’ll improve your speed massively.
Runner’s high is one of the main reasons people enjoy running precisely because it’s so intense.
This phenomenon occurs after long exercises (the definition of long depends on the person – an amateur just getting into running will probably feel an intense high after running just two miles).
To help you deal with the pain during running, your body starts releasing endorphins and endocannabinoids.
Just to clarify, running doesn’t cause pain in the traditional sense – it’s just difficult to keep up high levels of exertion for so long.
It’s more of a dull sense of your body telling you “Hey, why are you torturing me?”
While endocannabinoids are molecules that have a similar effect as THC – they induce a state of simultaneous relaxation and euphoria.
The length of your runner’s high depends on how much you exert yourself. As you build up stamina and endurance, you’ll need to go on more intense runs to get that high.
In an ironic way, this healthy hobby is a bit of an addiction too.
How Is Running a Hobby?
If you haven’t run since high school gym class, you might think that running is reserved for professional athletes – you couldn’t be more wrong.
You don’t have to be able to run a marathon or a 100-meter spring in eleven seconds to take up running.
In fact, one of the best exercises for someone starting out is slowly running and walking a small distance (2 miles, for example). With time, the goal is to finish the entire length without walking.
You can join a running group if that makes it easier for you, but know in advance that running is a pretty solitary sport.
You’re the only one who can feel your pain, although it can help to have another person with you, so you can push one another forward.
Some people experience anxiety when they think about running – they want to run, but they feel uncomfortable running in front of other people.
If that’s the case, try running on an empty track or even an empty trail outside of town.
All in all, when you start running, your goal doesn’t have to be the next one to sign with the New York Jets – it should just be wanting to enjoy yourself and stay healthy!
How to Start Running?
There are two basic requirements you need to fulfill before you start running:
- Buy a pair of running shoes
It would also be good if you didn’t take your first run in a rainstorm.
When it comes to buying running shoes, you don’t need to invest in $300 shoes. You can find cheaper shoes for amateurs in various stores, but make sure you try them on before you buy them.
When it comes to stretching, that’s the best way to prevent injury.
You likely won’t injure yourself on your first run (and if you’re a bit lucky, you won’t injure yourself on any other run), but you can easily pull every muscle in your leg if you don’t stretch.
You should also stretch after you finish your run.
Another tip is to start out slow. This applies not only to your first run but every run you’ll ever make. Even professional sprinters take a few slow runs before the competition starts to warm up.
You want to slowly warm up your muscles before you reach your ideal pace!
Over the long term, your goal should be to conquer longer distances. Walk if you must, but the goal should be to finish the run, no matter how long it is.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it’s to not be afraid to fail – every runner in history has at least once overzealously set too high of a bar for themselves and failed to reach it.
Don’t let this drag you down – dust yourself off and try again.
What Are You Waiting For? Start Running!
There’s nothing more to say – it’s healthy, cheap, and you’ll feel like you can conquer the world once you’re done. Get out there and take your first steps!