Smiling while running?

Yes, despite the unsmiling runners, this proves others do love it too...

Yes, despite the unsmiling runners, others do love it too…

Until recently, I didn’t understand why a lot of other runners wouldn’t smile back at me as I was limbering up to full speed on the country roads leading out of the village I live in.

Running makes me unbelievably happy. I was a pretty good long distance runner at school but didn’t rediscover it until my late thirties. Now I’m a regular. I will run in wind, rain, hail, snow, heat (in England ‘heat’ is anything over 20C) – balking only when I think I might break my ankle on ice. I once ran 9 miles in pouring rain. If anyone else had been out, which they weren’t as they were clearly saner than me, they’d have seen someone so wet you could have wrung me out and filled the nearest reservoir.

After my initial rediscovery of running, I felt like I’d had some sort of epiphany. I wanted to go up to total strangers, poke them and explain what they were missing. I was like some sort of running evangelist, leaping about, hands in the air, trying to spread the word. I’ve calmed down since then, although if no-one is looking I have been known to start waving my hands in the air for other reasons, generally because of whatever is on my iPod. I really do hope no-one ever does see that, as the blue lights and sirens might end up not being far behind.

I have to be honest and say that initially I took it up as I was working from home and needed some exercise to lose weight. However, unless you’re really going to get the miles in, this doesn’t really stack up. For example, two days ago, I ran almost 5 miles and according to my beloved Garmin, I burnt off something in the region of 550 calories. Basically if you went into Starbucks and ordered a Grande wholemilk hot chocolate with whipped cream, you’d have wiped out the whole run in the course of the ten minutes it took you to drink it. Fortunately buckets of hot chocolate don’t do it for me, so I’m relatively safe. Puts it into perspective doesn’t it?

You’re ok if you’re an ultra runner though. For those 40, 50 mile or longer (try this one?) runs, which are a whole other level of craziness addiction, you are allowed to eat cake on the way round.

So I don’t run to lose weight or even to maintain my weight. In reality, I run to let go of stress. There are very few things that have the same effect on me and now I understand why some other runners don’t smile. It is because they are focusing on being alone. When a slightly sweaty woman in skin tight pink and black neon flashes them a broad grin from the other side of the road, this is interfering with their production of Alpha waves. These are the ‘smooth, regular, electrical oscillations in the brain that occur when a person is awake but relaxed’ source. Even that definition makes me feel relaxed. When I run, I can go out feeling like a bag of knotted rope and come back feeling like a bunch of little white flowers have opened out in my brain. I’m happy when I come home and the rest of my family get the benefit.

One of the other things that seems to do this for me, is writing. So despite the fact that I have a million things to do today, this is why I’m here, writing about running.

What does the same for you?

14 thoughts on “Smiling while running?

  1. What does the same for me? Skating! Skating 12 miles with a group of friends, skating a few miles on my own or even just to the corner shop! Skating makes me feel free. It proves to me that I can still be ‘me’ and not just ‘the finder of the lost school book’, ‘the repairer of the toy’ etc etc. Skating also gives me thighs and a bum of steel but that’s just an added bonus!

  2. I totally agree – whether it’s listening to a catchup of Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, or one of the zillions of Desert Island Discs on the I-Player (every single on is available!!), or just enjoying the birdsong mingled in with my own breathing, you can’t beat it!

  3. Doing a workout in the morning really makes me feel stronger for the rest of the day, it’s like cos I’ve already done something positive it makes me want to do more! I feel alive. So although I don’t really like crying sweat and having to wash my hair everyday I do love a pumping cardio 🙂

  4. I love to garden – there’s something about ripping out those vile weeds. I suck at it and the weeds always win! I really wanted to go and putter for a bit on Mother’s Day…but it was…snowing sideways, so I curled up on the couch in my flannel pjs and stoically wasted time instead…

    • I try to like gardening – but it doesn’t come naturally… The weather is weird here too if that helps. It was lovely and warm, Spring bursting out everywhere (at last). Now it’s stormy and cold again. Not Happy!

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