Fitness Slider_1 — 22 April 2012
Running: More than a High, It’s a Lifestyle

by Ericka Herd, Special to Grouptrails…

So cliché but TRUE: “Old habits die hard.”  I started running in my fourth grade PE class against classmates during recess. Shortly afterwards, I’d earned my title as the fastest person in the school. Little did I know, being one of very few blacks in the community, I was racing for my acceptance among my white peers.  Now all of a sudden, I was no longer the last girl standing as captains picked teams in PE class. I was amongst the jocks. I was accepted and not the just the little black girl. I never imagined that one experience of success would have set the stage for my entire life and some twenty-seven years later I’d still be running.

From winning elementary Presidential Physical Fitness Awards, to setting middle and high school records on the track, I earned a bid to attend Eastern Kentucky University on a track scholarship. My college running regime was pretty tough to say the least. A member of the track and cross country team meant running year round and if you wanted to experience a mere slice of success, you’d run on your own outside of the regular season.

Today, at 35, I get up and run out of habit. After years of training and competing, it becomes a lifestyle. My days just do not seem complete without hitting the pavement and working up a little sweat. Some call it a runner’s high, but for me, it’s more than a high. It’s a lifestyle. I’ll admit, running in the cold is difficult and becomes more of a mental toughness, but like my old coach used to say, “Suck it up and just run.”

I like to run when the sun is beaming hot, causing sweat to drip off my body giving me the feeling that I’m working hard. Most, call me crazy for running in such hot conditions. I drink plenty of water, staying hydrated and keep it moving at a pace that is comfortable for my body. When that high really kicks in, I go for a second run of the day, hoping that it’s topped off with a little sprinkle of sky water.  Either way, I’m not ever going to stop running, God willing. It gives me a peace that is unexplainable. Add my MP3 player to the mix and I am in Runner’s Heaven.

When first starting to run, here are a few side notes to be mindful of:

  • Purchase a pair of proper running shoes. Runners should go to a store for runners. Visit stores that have running experts as representatives who can properly fit you into shoes that match the makeup of your feet.
  • Change running shoes frequently according to mileage. Use your training shoes for running and nothing more. You don’t see football players walking around in cleats outside of practice or competition.
  • Drink plenty of water for hydration.
  • Warm-up first with a light jog. Then stretch.
  • Listen to your body and rest when needed.

Research tells us that it takes about 30 days to develop a habit. I encourage you set a new goal and put running on your agenda. Start slow like anything, and increase to improve. True, it’s not for everyone, but you will never know until you try. When you’ve made it a habit, it will quickly become more than a high. It will be a lifestyle.

– Ericka Herd

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