Running: Cheaper Than Therapy

When you think about runners what comes to mind? Well whatever you’re thinking, I know at least part of it, if not all of it, is correct. It’s true that we sport spandex or tempo running shorts at every opportunity, habitually in neon, have a coffee in hand, undoubtedly wearing compression socks, most likely in neon, we single handedly keep the protein bar industry afloat and follow Runner’s World magazine like crazy Nazis. Did I mention we like neon?

To be considered a runner, by definition, you simply need to run. Most people think to be a runner you have to run far or fast, win races or run marathons, but in reality you just need to lace up your sneaks and head out, whether that’s in your neighborhood or on the famous streets of New York City. As women we sometimes struggle with thoughts of not being fast enough, serious enough or good enough and unlike some sports, running is a sport that is open to anyone and anyone can become a runner.  That’s pretty awesome.
Runners are their own breed; we have our distinct mannerisms, habits and crazy ideas of what constitutes fun. We LOVE Nike tempo shorts, maybe even more than we love jeans. Ok definitely more than we love jeans, or any type of real clothing for that matter. We live in sports bras, live for sweat wicking fabric and consider Lululemon a god send. Who needs blush when a good run will flush your cheeks for free?? You know the marketer in me thinks a good name for the next Nars blush should be "runners flush". Nars, can I have a job?

Some girls dream about Cavalli and Louboutins dressing their bodies and covering their feet, while I and my fellow sweaty friends lust after the newest Pro Bar flavors, Nike seasonal colors and styles and the day it’s time to shop for a new pair of sneakers. Its heaven I tell you! The difference can basically be summed up like this; the fashion obsessed love Victoria Beckham while we sweaty folk love David.

I have been known to get up at 5:45am on a Saturday to get in a run before it gets too hot, to beat the rain or before I have to be somewhere. I've been told I'm crazy. I've been asked countless times how I manage to have a blast in social situations without having 5 drinks or how I have such discipline to party sober, stay out late and still get my ass out of bed in the morning. The simple answer is I have no idea. I guess when you like something enough you have the self-discipline to do it, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. It just so happens that my major stress reliever is more fun without being hung over and in a bid to maintain a strong social life and be a runner I have to keep tabs on my drinking and crap-food intake. I love my friends, drunk or otherwise, love French fries and pizza and love to imbibe on several occasions just like anyone else, I just also love to run, work out and eat apples. Those last three things just so happen to be the things I love to do more of. I would never judge those that are out of shape so why judge me?

Runners are controlled by nature; we can't help it, we have to be. The sport dictates a pretty high level of self-discipline. I for one can’t jump out of bed after late night pizza, beer and deep fried Twinkies and run without worrying I’m going to get instant diarrhea. Google “runners that have shit their pants while running”, I’ll wait. See? It’s a thing! No thank you. Making sure I eat the right foods, drink plenty of fluids and get as much rest as my New York City life will allow (that’s precisely zero minutes as fellow New Yorkers can attest) are all key in my attempt to run my best. Or even run mediocre. Hell, there are times when its 5:45am, on a Tuesday and it’s raining that I’ll take that mediocre run. I find some people threatened by the amount of discipline it takes. It’s those people that I personally love the most; they make earning health, self-esteem and mental discipline worth it.

You often hear actors say they don't necessarily want to date other actors but end up doing it anyway because they have the schedules and understanding for what the other is going through. I feel that way about being an athlete. If you're a smoker, hate exercise or eating healthy, you're not going to understand why I get up early to work out or sometimes do two-a-days if/when training calls for it or I'm just in the mood. I dated a guy recently who made me feel continuously bad about getting up early to run. He thought it was stupid. He would always tell me that I looked like a runner and the effort was clearly paying off but maybe I should just give it up. He would tell me the early mornings were killer and, well, he hated running. I kindly reminded him that while I was getting up super early to run, he was free to sleep in. I didn't tell him to quit drinking or take up marathon training. I didn’t even tell him that exercise is healthy or actually really fun. That isn’t for me to decide for someone. I simply expect the person I'm dating to respect my priorities; my dad was an avid runner, my aunt is an avid runner and my sister-in-law is too. THEY ARE ALL HAPPILY MARRIED so I just need to find someone better fitted to me. Don't get me wrong, I don't work out for 7 hours a day or run 200 miles a week, but I do work out a lot and prioritize it so. By getting up early and sacrificing my own sleep I feel like I am making a concerted effort to not have exercise interfere with life. A little respect please.

I also run because, well, I've always done it! We’re an athletic family and don't view exercise as a punishment. I fondly remember crossing the finish line of races with my dad at a very tender, young age. It was fun then and means even more to me now.

Summer is the perfect season to love running. It is FINALLY time to wave goodbye to the unrelenting winter temps, and I can get on with sweating like a boss. The color is coming back to my skin and I can lose the countless layers that can be annoying, am I right?!

Half social butterfly, half avid athlete, I think I've got a pretty good life balance. Just ask my brother. There were times during our marathon training last year when I would text him at 4:15am when I was heading home to go to bed after a fun night out and again at 9:15am when I was getting ready to head out for a run. Like I said, balance. As I continue to grow up and inch closer and closer to my 30th birthday I have come to the realization that I like me. Crazy, right?! I finally understand what it means to like the good, the bad and the imperfect. I know I’ve got running to partly thank for that. To those that think runners are weird and obsessed with being healthy I offer you this...try becoming one and see what happens.