Running does a lot for me.
It provides me with an avenue to think and to contemplate.
It allows my imagination to run amok, and ensures my chain of thoughts don’t get stuck.
Not only that, but most of the nonsense on this blog are conceived as I’m pounding one foot in front of the other, whether along the picturesque waterfront of Sydney Harbour or around the serene parklands of suburbia.
Indeed, running has made me a calmer person, or at least a much less volatile one than I would have been otherwise.
As an added bonus, I’ve been told that it has made me a fitter and healthier man. That is great to hear although, given the stress that running puts on my joints, I have suspicions about whether the physical benefits sufficiently outweigh the costs.
Putting aside the obvious pluses of running, however, there are some collateral advantages to this hobby. These are the ones that health experts and fitness magazines will rarely mention, but are perhaps even more important than the wishy-washy pros mentioned above.
1. Running lets me eat like a pig without putting on any weight.
I consume four meals a day. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Every now and then, I even find a meal between brunch and lunch. And when I say meal, I’m not talking small morsels of nouveau crap that you can eat in three bites, but hearty portions of real food that can really blow up your tastebud’s skirt.
Not only that but I eat junk like it’s nobody’s business. After dinner, a typical night will comprise of chocolates, biscuits and Coke, before I start sample-tasting some cakes and ice cream, or whatever else I can find in the fridge that is not green. Despite this gluttony, my weight does not budge at all. As a matter of fact, it hasn’t budged for so long that I’m beginning to question the quality of our Made-in-Taiwan scale.
2. Running gives me the energy to chase down my kids and give them a walloping when they get too cheeky.
Those little boys of mine are just pure bundles of concentrated energy. That energy is unleashed with fury when they are outside in the backyard or, worse still, out in the public. They would race each other, push each other, hide around corners to scare each other. Sometimes, they can create so much mischief outside that I pretend they’re not my sons. But that is hard to do when the boys look like minature versions of me.
Consequently, I am forever running after them so as to, for instance, prevent 7 year-old L from slamming into a shopping trolley (because he never faces the front when in motion) or to save 5 year-old C from getting hit by a car (because he only faces the front when crossing the road). And I can only thank running for providing me the stamina to do all this, and still have the energy to swing by a bakery for a croissant.
3. In the event that I can’t chase them down, running gives me an excuse to palm my hyperactive kids off to my wife.
For a man, there is no better excuse than running to delegate the task of amusing the kids to his wife.
“Honey, can you please look after the boys while I go for a pedicure?”
“Sorry babe, I have to go out for a run.” I would reply while I’m already in my underwear, slathering on sunscreen lotion.
“But you went for a run yesterday! And why do you always go for a run when the kids are about to berserk from boredom??!!”
“I’ve got a marathon coming up, woman, and I need to train for it! So … love you honey, and see you in a couple of hours.”
And with that, I would head out the door in my sneakers, tip-toeing past two cheeky boys jumping up and down on the couch, and two hundred toys strewen up and down the hallway.
It also helps that my dear wife always thinks that I will crash and burn in marathons. As a result, she rarely objects vigorously to my training program, except to silently pout and to seek revenge by, for example, filling the sink with dirty dishes for me to clean upon my return.
4. Running puts me to sleep, as soon as my head hits the pillow.
Many friends I know have trouble sleeping. I have never had that problem, especially since I took up long distance running. I can have a can of coke and a mug of coffee at 11.30pm, and still have little trouble wondering off to dream land immediately afterwards.
Even when one of my boys call out at 3am because he dreamt of a monster stealing his Power Ranger figurine with the kung-fu grip, I can wake up, go and reassure him, come back and fall back to sleep in a milli-second. If it was my wife, that would be the end of it. She would spend the rest of the night staring at the ceiling in darkness. Sometimes she even blames my snoring (which I don’t do, by the way) for her inability to go back to sleep. I don’t even know where she finds the temperity to level such an accusation because I fall asleep no problem, in spite of her hogging the whole bed, sometimes even lying diagonally across the entire mattress.
So, there you have it. If these reasons don’t entice you to pound the pavement, I don’t know what will.
And as you revel in the peace and serenity of running, just remember, it was The Jogging Dad who cut through the bullshit and enlightened you on the true benefits of this exercise.
Keep on pounding.