Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Running: Spread the Love!

Is running a totally selfish activity? I mean, think about it – when you go for a run, it’s all about you. That’s all well and good, everyone needs some “me time” in their lives, but is there such thing as too much?

I’ve wondered about this before – I mean, how much time do I spend (/waste?) on running?

So bear with me here, we’re going to do a little math.

I’ll start with the conservative estimate that I spend an average of one hour per day on running and running-related activities (i.e. stretching, abs, yoga, etc.). I’ve been running since I was in seventh grade, but for now let’s just look at the years since I became a “real” runner in college:

1 hour per day

356 days per year

5 years

I’ll plug some numbers into my calculator (ha! As if I have one – I’ll use my phone.).

Bloopity bleep bleep dip dot dot dot…

That’s a total of one thousand seven hundred eighty hours (let’s get that in numeric form, just for impact: 1,780)!

A.k.a. 74.16 days!

Which means that in the past five years I have spent 2 months and 2 weeks running!

That’s a lot of time. Would it be better spent fighting for world peace? Maybe. But I can’t say I regret my decisions.

And really, running isn’t entirely selfish. It might be a stretch, but here’s the theory: attitudes are contagious. And running makes me happy. According to the Christakis/Fowler study (from the NYT), “within three degrees of separation we are connected to more than 1,000 people – all of whom we can theoretically help make healthier, fitter, and happier just by our contagious example.”

So think of all the people who see you throw yourself out the door for a run every day: family, roommates, friends, and co-workers. I’m not trying to take full credit for past roommates who started to run…but I like to think that the example I set and the discipline I demonstrated added at least a little bit to their motivation.

And you can influence people you don’t even know: passing drivers, walkers, other joggers who are about to stop and walk but see a fellow-runner and keep going.

From that point of view, running isn’t selfish at all – it is a gift from you to the world.

So think about that next time you wonder why you are doing this…